I went looking for new glasses yesterday and the eye tech gave me a pair of light pink glasses. I told him that I was not a pink girl. Then he gave me some teal frames and he commented that they were bold. And I agreed; I am a bold kind of girl.
I feel like I am finally making headway with some of these nursing home issues. My grandmother’s health is still all over the place and is now residing in her 5th nursing home. This one is a huge upgrade compared to the last four. The price tag definitely reflects that. But the staff are kind, she is being fed (sort of), and they communicate with us (sometimes) so I think we are winning so far.
I wanted to write this specific blog to help some of you out who may not be familiar with elder care or long tern nursing home care. Nursing homes are to follow state rules and guidelines, so please check with your state laws for more details. (I am in Michigan.)
Document: If you can, email people that are caring for your loved one (LO). I reported a home and the investigator for the state was in contact with me throughout the process. The nursing home claimed that they had no record of my grievances with them. Luckily, I had saved all of my emails sent to them and gave those emails to the investigator. She was able to use my emails as evidence that the home was not in compliance and they were given multiple citations.
Be annoying: Call and email. If you are unsure about something, call for clarification. Get on their social Media accounts. You are the advocate for your loved one. If you have to call 10 times to get an answer, call. They will get the message that you are serious.
Write to your congressional members: If you know that there is something going on in the nursing home that is cause for concern, and it is something that is a common factor in many nursing homes, write to your congressional members. Write to senators. Write to the Attorney General. Write to all of the people that you can to make them aware. I am in contact with one of my senators and his office stays in touch with me. One of the issues that I brought up was the time between a report being filed to the state and then the state investigating the report. Most times it task 90 days for them to start looking into it. That is completely unacceptable. My senator is now working on how to create a time frame that investigators need to follow to check on these reports.
Ask a lot of questions: Ask ask ask ask ask!!!!! Ask all of the questions and find out all that you can. Also, information in nursing homes is to be available to the public at all times. There is a list of citations that the nursing homes are given my the state and those are to be available for people to read. If the nursing home cannot give you this information upon asking, they are in violation and can be given a citation for that as well.
Look for the info not freely given: I found that there is a lot of hidden information. Like contacting your local ombudsman in the need of help Sometimes they can settle issues before it becomes an bigger issue, like with a resident feeling like their needs or wishes are not being met. It was also explained to me that there are people in the state agency that are responsible for judging how severe a complaint is and that determines when the state investigators can look into it. If the complaint is not “severe enough”, it will take longer for them to look into the complaint.
The elderly need better care. For whatever reason your family member needs to be in a care facility, they should always be treated with respect and dignity. They should feel safe and be comfortable. Be fed and watered. All basic needs should be met. But most of these facilities are failing these people.
I would love for my grandmother to be home and have in home care, but she doesn’t qualify. Insurance won’t pay. We would have to pay out of pocket. 24 hour care would cost $648 a day. We have a tiny support system for her. We don’t have a choice but to have her in a facility until she has the ability to care for herself independently.
I just thought I would share what I have learned about all of this. And to tell you that even when it is hard, keep fighting.