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Choosing a Nursing Home

November 25, 2016

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Both state and federal regulations require nursing homes to adhere to specific health and safety standards. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse still occurs at an alarming rate, making it especially important for those who are considering placing an elderly relative in a nursing home to conduct careful research before making a decision. Choosing the right nursing home for a loved one is a difficult process, so if you are contemplating alternative living arrangements for an elderly relative, it is critical to speak with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney who can help you navigate the decision making process.

How to Choose a Nursing Home

The most commonly reported incidents of nursing home abuse include:

  • Malnutrition and dehydration;
  • Inadequate medical care;
  • Physical violence against residents;
  • A lack of supervision;
  • The inappropriate use of restraints;
  • Failure to institute safety procedures; and
  • A lack of sanitation.

One of the best ways to ensure that a loved one does not become the victim of these types of nursing home abuse is to conduct thorough research beforehand. For example, a person should begin the decision making process by asking local senior centers, doctors, and trusted friends for recommendations. Once an initial list of potential facilities has been compiled, it is important to ensure that the nursing homes comply with state and federal standards. The local licensing agency will have a copy of each nursing home’s last survey as well as a record of any complaints or investigations.

At this point, it is advisable to obtain specific information about each nursing home, such as:

  • The ratio of staff members to residents;
  • Whether the nursing home has taken steps to ensure that residents cannot wander off of the property;
  • The cost of room, board, and personal services;
  • Whether the nursing home and its administrator are licensed by the state;
  • Whether residents have a choice of food items at mealtimes and if the facility offers assistance with eating;
  • The rules regarding visiting hours; and
  • Whether residents have access to doctors and preventive healthcare.

Visiting a facility in person will also help give an interested party an idea of a nursing home’s atmosphere, procedures, and schedules.

Potential Liability

Sadly, despite a family’s best efforts, nursing home abuse can still occur, making it especially important for a resident’s loved ones to exercise vigilance in looking for signs of abuse. If signs of abuse do occur, it is critical to immediately notify the authorities and to ensure that all evidence is preserved. Nursing homes are regulated by both federal and Pennsylvania law, so if a victim can establish that abuse occurred, he or she may be able to obtain compensation for the following:

  • The medical costs associated with treating injuries caused by the abuse;
  • Pain and suffering endured as a result of the abuse; and
  • Fees already paid to the nursing home or assisted living facility.

How Contacting an Experienced Philadelphia Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help

Nursing home abuse is a serious offense and those who take part in it should and can be held responsible, so if you live in Pennsylvania and suspect that a loved one is being abused, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 to schedule a free consultation.



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