Finding the right nursing home for your loved one can be a challenge. From an outside perspective, many nursing homes look similar. They may seem equally capable, comfortable, modern, and accessible. But the true test of a nursing home is how well its staff members treat residents and whether those residents get the medical care and personalized attention they need. This isn’t just a matter of personal standards either; these are legal requirements.
In addition, it’s vital for both residents and their loved ones to be able to fully trust everyone associated with their nursing home, and that’s why nursing homes are strictly monitored and supervised by governmental agencies. In Alabama, the Bureau of Health Provider Standards is in charge of licensing and certifying healthcare facilities, including nursing homes.
All nursing homes in the state are inspected annually by a team of inspectors from the Alabama Department of Public Health. These inspectors arrive unannounced and are tasked with checking every aspect of the nursing homes they audit, including staff adequacy, overall cleanliness, food preparation methods, and the administration of residents’ medication and therapies.
What Services Do Nursing Homes Provide to Residents?
There are four basic types of services that Alabama nursing homes must provide to residents:
- Nursing care—Any procedure or therapy that requires that professional skills of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in a nursing home setting can be considered nursing care. It includes things such as the administration of medication and injections, as well as post-hospital stroke, heart, and orthopedic care.
- Personal care—This service refers to physically helping residents accomplish daily living tasks that they may be unable to do on their own, including walking, getting into and out of bed, personal hygiene tasks, dressing, eating, and more.
- Residential services—Residents’ daily lives are covered under this service. It involves the general supervision of all residents, ensuring they live in a protective environment, maintaining residents’ room and board, and planning programs to meet residents’ social and spiritual needs.
- Medical care—Nursing homes work closely with the physicians of residents, both during the admission process and while they’re living in their facilities. Upon admission of a resident, their physicians will work with nursing home staff to treat their patients by writing prescriptions, developing resident care plans, and even visiting periodically.
In addition to providing these four types of care, all nursing homes in Alabama must pass more than 500 state and federal regulations. Long-term care is one of the most highly regulated industries in America, and it’s our job as Alabama nursing home lawyers to stay up to date on those regulations and determine when they’ve been violated in cases of abuse or neglect.
Be on the Lookout for These Important Markers of a Good Nursing Home
Sometimes, nursing homes can pass state regulations and even pass their annual inspections but still provide unsatisfactory living conditions for residents. It’s important to use your own judgment and intuition when selecting a nursing home for your loved one, or if you’re thinking about transferring them to another care facility. The Alabama Public Health website recommends that family members be on the lookout for the following when observing their loved one’s nursing home:
- Are all residents clean, appropriately dressed, well-groomed, and have a pleasant attitude?
- Are both the exterior and interior of the facility clean and well-kept?
- Are lighting, sound, temperature, furnishings, and odor levels acceptable for residents and visitors?
- Do staff members wear name tags and have pleasant interactions with residents?
- Do resident rooms include their personal belongings and have a comfortable atmosphere?
- Are meals appealing and nutritious, and do residents receive assistance during meal time if necessary?
- Are adequate safety measures in place in resident rooms and common areas, such as handrails, call lights, smoke detectors, and more?
- Do residents take part in meaningful social and spiritual activities?
Trust your gut when choosing or evaluating a nursing home for your loved one. If something feels “off,” it probably is.
Nursing Homes Must Uphold Resident Rights
The Older American’s Act passed in 1965 guarantees that all nursing home residents nationwide have the right to a dignified existence, the right to individual freedom of choice, the right to privacy, and the right to voice grievances. Nursing homes are required to respect and uphold these rights, which also include:
- The right to exercise their own rights as citizens of the U.S.
- The right to be fully informed of their own health status and to participate in the planning of their own care and treatment
- The right to have their money and property protected
- The right to manage their own financial affairs
- The right to retain and use personal possessions
- The right to have guests visit
- and many more
Nursing home residents in Alabama also have access to a volunteer ombudsman who visits nursing facilities throughout the state on a regular basis to help resolve resident grievances and concerns.
Got Questions or Concerns About a Nursing Home? We’ve Got Answers.
Due to the aging population of Alabama, nursing homes are big business—and not all of them make resident care their highest priority. At Sawyer Law Firm, we know all too well that many nursing homes were conceived, built, and are managed with the goal of making easy money, and that priority means that residents don’t get the attention and medical treatment they deserve.
Even though nursing homes are tightly regulated, many mismanaged and negligent facilities slip through the cracks every year, putting thousands of residents at risk of preventable injuries and illnesses, or even abuse and neglect. If you suspect your loved one was mistreated in their nursing home, give us a call. It’s our goal to help abusive and neglectful nursing home victims get maximum compensation.