Perhaps you have already placed your loved one into a home. When you first visited the grounds and home itself, how did you feel? Did it appear to be a supportive, caring environment? There are some wonderful homes throughout Canada that do provide the care you would expect. However, this is unfortunately not always the case.
There have been far too many homes which have been caught abusing elderly patients, over-medicating their residents, and simply not providing an environment that is beneficial for those who need positive care and support the most.
In a recent CTV News special, various Ontario long-term care facilities were caught mistreating elderly individuals. The investigation was shocking and horrific to watch. One gentleman placed a hidden camera in his mother’s room, only to find that she had been exposed to horrendous abuse and neglect.
Warning Signs That Your Loved One Is Not Receiving Optimal Care
Many seniors have lost their voice, as their illnesses and mental health concerns often distract their loved ones from certain red flags. Mistreatment in nursing homes is not always obvious, which is why you need to ensure that your loved one is being properly cared for.
There are dozens of possible warning signs, however the following red flags are extremely serious. If you notice any of these signs or feel as though something isn’t right, please do not ignore your gut instinct.
Warning Sign #1: Noticeable Physical or Mental Changes
This can be a tricky area to recognize, as many degenerative conditions create symptoms that affect emotional stability. With that being said, really pay attention to your loved one. Have you noticed that they have become more withdrawn, taking part in fewer activities? Do they appear to be fearful and agitated?
Physically, are they losing weight? Are they complaining about dehydration? Have you noticed any marks or bruises on their skin? In some cases, skin tears and pressure ulcers will be in areas that are not generally visible, such as their hips, thighs, back, and upper arms.
Remember, these are simply potential clues, not proof of poor care. You need to take your loved one’s specific condition into account as well. Maybe they’re on blood thinners, then walk into their dresser in the night. This could cause significant bruising.
If you notice changes, begin to observe the staff while your loved one is with them. If you find something worrisome, simply reach out to a staff member to ask how a bruise or cut occurred? If you are truly concerned, be aware of some the other possible warning signs to ensure that everything is okay.
Warning Sign #2: Deflecting or Not Answering Questions
When you speak with staff, it’s normal for them not to know everything about every patient. For a staff member to respond with something like, “I’m not too sure, but I can find out for you” is more than acceptable. However, it shouldn’t be the only answer you ever hear. You should never get the impression that there’s something being hidden.
Whenever a staff member refuses to discuss your loved one’s care, this is a major red flag. There should be open communication, as staff members get to know and care for your loved one. If you notice that your loved one is rapidly losing weight, they should already have noticed and set a plan in motion.
Pay attention to the level of care that the staff members are providing. Also, focus on how staff members interact with one another. Do they work well as a team? Do they have poor attitudes towards one another? Perhaps you get the impression that one is covering something up for another staff member? Always investigate further.
Warning Sign #3: Your Loved One Expressing Their Discomfort Regarding Specific Staff Members
In some cases, a nursing home may be a great place overall, but it only takes one individual to cause your loved one to feel distressed and fearful. If your loved one specifically says that they do not want a certain staff member or two caring for them, this is concerning.
Your loved one should not feel uncomfortable or distressed around any staff member. In some cases, your loved one may suffer from cognitive issues. Confusion is a possibility, but you should always take this sign seriously, as it may be a sign of neglect or mistreatment.
Warning Sign #4: Unanswered Calls
There are two ways that unanswered calls could be a warning sign. First, when you call the nursing home from your residence, do you struggle to get in touch with anyone? Nursing staff should have time to answer your calls or at least return your calls shortly after you leave a message.
The other type of call that should always be answered are calls from your loved one’s room. If they have told you that they press the call button and no one comes, try while you’re visiting. Delays could be due to a specific time of time. Perhaps during meal time, during shift change, or another unexplained reason. Regardless, you should address this concern with staff.
These are just some of the warning signs associated with poor care. Never ignore your gut feeling, as your gut generally knows whether or not something isn’t right. If you feel uneasy when you visit, you need to understand why this is. There have been too many unfortunate incidents that have occurred within homes across the country.
Protect your loved one by getting involved and ensuring that the level of care is what you expect it to be. If you suspect any abuse is occurring, please know that there are multiple options regarding care. Do not leave your loved one in a place that makes you feel uneasy or is somewhere they do not personally feel safe.
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