Here are things families, advocates
and volunteers should watch out for in a nursing home:
1- Does the place smell like urine and feces.
2- How long are
the call lights or bells standing in before someone checks on the
3- How many of
the patients have bandages on their arms or legs. How many have
bruises or skin tears. NOT All are abuse, sometime the patients
bump themselves. Pay close attention to where the injuries
are and if the patient could do it to themselves. It's sort of
like 42 stab wounds in the back and the coroner rules it a
suicide. Bruising and skin tears are usually a sign of rough handling
of the patients and this needs to be reported.
4- How many air
beds are in the facility. Air beds are easy to recognize.
Many make a hissing sound, most have much thicker mattresses than
normal, many of them have a 2 foot by 2 foot box attached at the foot
of the bed.
Air beds are very expensive. It costs Medicare an average of
$5,000 a month to rent them. Medicare will not pay for air bed
rental unless the patient has a stage 3 + (Bedsores are staged 1
through 4) bedsore. Don't let anyone fool you, 98
percent of all bedsores or decubitis ulcers as they are called are
preventable. Bedsores indicate the patient has been left laying
in their own waste for long periods of time and or their nutrition is
Once a bedsore is discovered, BY LAW, that patient is to be
turned or repositioned every 2 hours. If there is more than 2
air beds in the facility, that is a huge red flag the facility
is not changing or feeding properly.
5- How many IV's
are hanging? IV's indicate either dehydration or infection.
Either is bad news. (Do not confuse an IV with a nasal gastric
or gastric feeding tube)
6- How many
patients does each certified nursing assistance (CNA's) have to feed.
Should not be feeding more than 4 patients at a time.
7- Look at the
patient, I mean really look at the patient. Squat down in
front of them and look them in the eye. Do they squint. If
they do and they aren't wearing glasses, ask them where are
their glasses. The same with hearing. If they have hearing
aids in their ears, cup your hand over that ear. If the battery
is OK you'll hear a squeal, no squeal batteries are dead or
hearing aid not turned on or up loud enough for the patient to hear.
Look in their mouths while your talking to them. Do they have
teeth, if not ask them where they are. If they have teeth,
are they green or slimy. While you are checking these things
out, smell-----do they stink, are they wet or messed, is their
hair combed and are they in clean clothes.
8- At dinner
time, each tray will state if the patient is diabetic.
Does the tray have concentrated sugar on it. What does the food
look like. Is the food hot and the milk cold. Check the
dinner cart as they are returning it to the kitchen. Are the
meals eaten or still covered.
9- Check in the
patients room. Is there a water pitcher and either a glass or
straw. Teach your people to do the dehydration and starvation
tests. They are simple to do.
Take the skin on the back of your hand between your thumb and pointer
finger and GENTLY lift it up into a little peek. If the
skin stays up longer than your skin, they are dehydrated.
Check out the color of urine in the catheter bags. It should be
straw yellow and not cloudy. If it's dark and cloudy and there
is an strong sour smell that is infection and the staff should be
notified. If one is not getting enough water usually more than
one is affected. Take your thumb and middle fingers and at the
muscle area on your upper arm GENTLY squeeze. If there is no
resistance in the muscle area and your thumb goes directly to the
bone, they are malnourished.
10- Check out
the activity calendar, located on the bulletin board. Most of
them are filled but are those activities really taking place.
How many of the residents are simply parked in their wheel chairs in
11- Look at
their nails. Are they long and jagged. Are they clean.
12- Talk to the
patients. Ask about baths, hair being washed and combed. About
staff yelling or scolding them. Look at the staff. Are
they rushed, do they talk to the residence or just do what they have
to do and never say a word.
There are many other signs of neglect
and abuse such as over-medication/under medication but the above are
easy to detect.