3 Tips for Safeguarding Your Loved One’s Well-Being in a Care Facility

3 Tips for Safeguarding Your Loved One’s Well-Being in a Care Facility

Transitioning an aging family member into a care facility is a major decision and a life change for everyone involved. Your loved one’s health may require them to move, but that doesn’t erase the emotional aspect of relinquishing their current independence.

Plus, care facility staff often take the place of family-led assistance, demanding that the resident (and you) place significant trust in near strangers.

However necessary this change may be, there are still things you should do to ensure your beloved senior is safe in this new environment. While you make preparations for their new home, follow these tips to safeguard their well-being and your peace of mind.

1. Establish and Review Care Plans Regularly

Sit down with the care facility’s nursing lead and family liaison to discuss your loved one’s needs. Their medical requirements may have already been explained by their doctor, but there’s often more to the story.

As someone close to them, your perspective is valuable in ensuring they get customized, empathetic care. Discuss your senior’s current routine with the team, including meals and bedtimes, to see how their new schedule can align.

Often, care facilities have medical-grade furniture, fixtures, and equipment that make the environment feel less like home. This can add to the stress of moving, receiving care from new people, and being away from the familiar.

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As much as the space allows, surround your loved one with treasured photos and other mementos from home to make their new dwelling more welcoming.

Provide tips and suggestions that can help your aging family member feel at ease, and ask that notes be kept in detail, especially early on, to gauge their status and mental health. Review their care plan, medication regimen, and overall engagement regularly to assess the quality of care.

As your elder’s care needs shift, make updates to the plan in writing and have their charts updated accordingly. If the facility pushes back on this reasonable request, it may be a signal that something is off.

Pay attention to any evidence you see of inadequate or dangerous care, keeping notes, photos, and copies. While you will likely be able to resolve any one-off issues, this information could prove helpful in the event you need to engage nursing home abuse attorneys in the conversation.

2. Visit Regularly — and Randomly

Establish a schedule so that you and others involved in your loved one’s life visit them regularly. Some care facilities have visiting hours, events, and mealtimes that are best suited for guests, so check for specifics. While you may have personal schedule constraints along with those of the facility, mix it up when you can. This will give you a varied glimpse of daily life and the care setting, staff, and standards.

Fit in random, unannounced visits, too. This can provide a refreshing surprise for your senior and ensure peace of mind that quality care is consistent. If there are zero-visit hours that seem odd, such as during the day, ask for more information. While a late-night visit restriction is reasonable, a ban on midday visits raises a red flag.

Should you discover your loved one in a less-than-acceptable state during an off-cycle visit, document the details immediately. Take steps to correct the situation, whether it be soiled sheets, a missed bath, or a medication slip-up. Speak with the facility’s care liaison or state-designated advocate for advice and remediation guidelines.

Ideally, your visits will be uneventful, and you can focus on spending time with one another. Bring board games, pictures, or their favorite treat, provided their nutrition plan allows it. These small gestures can reduce feelings of loneliness, which can be common among long-term care residents. Let your cherished senior know you care by being there, listening, and surprising them in small, meaningful ways,

3. Know the Warning Signs of Abuse

Abuse is doubtless something you don’t want to think about, but it’s an unfortunate reality in nursing home settings. It isn’t always immediately visible, either, and the abused individual may not want to come forward with the truth. Learn what to look for, both about your loved one and within the facility. Visible gaps in charting, unclean beds, and understaffing can be a one-time issue or evidence of a larger problem.

Don’t wait to ask about anything you see, hear, or believe to be troubling. Ask your elder about it, keeping your questioning curious instead of accusatory. Since they rely on their care team, they may hesitate to be candid out of fear of worsening the abuse. Speak with your loved one alone to get an idea of what happened. Focus on listening without judgment, reserving your emotions for a later time.

Look for bruises, scratches, or evidence of falls, which are among the most obvious signs of abuse or neglect. Review their living space, too, and confirm that basic cleanliness, functioning health equipment, and medications are there. Leaving aids like canes, glasses, and walkers in a broken state also qualifies as abuse, so ensure they’re repaired swiftly.

Verbal abuse is also regrettably common, and it has even fewer visible signs. Monitor your loved one’s response when their care team is present. If they seem fearful, change their demeanor, or turn inward, that’s a signal that something is wrong.

This response may appear with all, one, or some care providers, so make note of who or what elicits it, and when. Use this information to report the abuse to the facility, elder rights authorities, and/or a nursing home abuse attorney.

Be an Ever-Present Fixture in Your Loved One’s Care

While care for your elderly family member has been entrusted to their nursing facility, your continued engagement is crucial for their well-being. Stay present in their life and the eyes of their caregivers. Your senior will feel supported, cared for, and important, all of which are essential for reducing loneliness.

Care facility staff will get to know you and can keep you informed of needs, changes, and concerns. By engaging in care planning, strengthening your relationships with facility personnel, and knowing the warning signs of abuse, you can better ensure your loved one will receive dignified care.

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