Researching North Carolina Nursing Homes Can Protect Elders from Abuse and Neglect in Asheville, Elsewhere

BlueRidgeNow.com reports that the majority of older adults would prefer to live in the comforts of their own home until they die. But our Asheville personal injury lawyers know that probably is unrealistic for many people. In fact, 43 percent of older adults develop mobility, sensory, or cognitive problems or issues with taking care of themselves as they age and need assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, cooking and cleaning.
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When elders reach the point of not being able to take care of themselves, family members are faced with the tough decision of what to do next. If bringing someone into the home to care for your loved one is not financially or physically feasible, you may need to consider other options such as senior-living communities, assisted living communities, or a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

As part of a two-part series “Visiting Nursing Homes During the Holidays” we hope to not only create awareness about abuse and neglect occurring at North Carolina nursing homes but we want to help make choosing the right nursing home for your loved one a little easier.

Bringing medical staff into the home can be costly. The majority of long-term care services are publicly funded by either Medicare or Medicaid depending on the extent of an older adult’s stay at the facility. Family members need to be cautious in choosing the right facility because not all nursing homes are rated highly or provide the best medical care.

The South Charlotte News recently reported there are more than 2,000 residents living in long-term care facilities in South Charlotte. North Carolina is ranked ninth in the country for the number of adults over age 60 residing in the state. By 2030, it is expected that one in four adults living in North Carolina will be over 60 years-old, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey.

There are 49 licensed adult-care facilities in Mecklenburg County alone, but only one paid regional long-term care ombudsman looking out for the rights and welfare of residents living in facilities. The purpose of the ombudsman is to make sure residents are treated properly and that facilities are following federal regulations and not committing violations that can endanger the health and safety of older adults. Ombudsmen are not regulators or inspectors but they can go around to facilities and talk to residents about whether their needs are being met or what kind of care they are receiving.

Family members in the process of looking for the right long-term care facility should first start by visiting the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation website. This site can serve as a resource and provide information about what a violation is and which adult care homes have received violations or have been cited for penalties.

Once you have done some research online, make a list of which facilities you want to visit. Choosing a facility that is close to your home is not always the best option so have a variety of nursing homes on your list. Make an appointment with someone in management at each facility to give you a tour and discuss the advantages to putting your loved one in their care. Once you have the list narrowed down, go for a second visit. It is important during the second visit to ask questions and pay special attention to the following:

-Talk to staff about how long they have worked at the facility. Staff longevity typically translates to residents being happier because the paid employees enjoy their job and like where they work.

-Plan to have a meal to get an idea of the quality, nutrition and amount provided to residents.

-Participate in planned activities or entertainment at the nursing home. Talk to residents about their experiences with staff and the kinds of activities provided.

-Recognize whether the state of health of residents at the facility matches the health of your own loved one. Look for mobility, communicativeness, and overall functioning of each resident. The idea is for your loved one to feel comfortable and make friends so residents should be free and able to interact with each other.

The important thing to remember is that both you and your elder loved one need to feel comfortable about which nursing home you choose. If it isn’t a joint decision or the elder is resisting for some reason, communicate with them about the concerns they have. Choosing the right home can create a safe and healthy environment for them to live out the rest of their remaining days.

Lee Law Offices P.A. is a dedicated team of personal injury lawyers experienced in nursing home neglect and abuse cases. We represent victims in North and South Carolina. If you or a loved one has been injured, call 1-800-887-1965 for a free appointment to discuss your case with someone today.

Additional Resources:
Cooperation could keep seniors living at home, by Spence Campbell, BlueRidgeNow.com.

Ombudsman protects long-term care residents, by Allison Osman, South Charlotte News.

More Blog Entries:
Falls a Common Cause of Injury and Death Among North Carolina Elderly, North Carolina Persona Injury Lawyers Blog, April 24, 2011.

Abuse and Neglect an Unfortunate Reality at North Carolina Nursing Homes, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 22, 2011.

Choosing Right Nursing Home in North Carolina can Reduce Risk of Neglect or Abuse, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 21, 2011.

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