If you have an elderly loved one who has been placed into a long-term care facility, chances are you are well-aware of what a largely thankless job many members of the nursing home staff perform day in and day out. There is an abundance of incredible professionals in this field, but they are also people just like the rest of us with the same stressors.
Understanding how to communicate with nursing home staff with grace, effectiveness, and dignity is the key to getting your elderly family member’s needs met. Staff members can have personal issues, and confrontations may arise. However, with effective communication, you can keep the focus on your loved one.
In this article, we’re going to cover the rules for getting along with the staff, what to do if your loved one has been abused or you suspect it, and how to report nursing home abuse.
Follow these three rules if you want to have a great working relationship with the nursing home staff. They’ll appreciate it and so will your senior family member.
As a general rule of thumb, if you want to avoid having problems with the staff, you’ll need to be proactive. There are many ways to be more proactive, beginning with involving yourself in the nursing home community and taking part in organized activities. You may even want to volunteer if it’s an option.
Depending on the type of home, your loved one may have a few regular assistants helping them. It’s important to try to develop a good relationship with them as best you can by being polite and empathic. You’ll also want to communicate any concerns you have right away.
Another way to be proactive with nursing home staff is to be attentive to your loved one’s daily routine. Ask the nursing home caregivers specific and direct questions about your family member’s daily life. Here are a few good examples of questions you should be asking the nursing home staff:
Asking these questions will keep you informed and reassured. It also sets up a familiar rapport with the nursing home staff so there is an ongoing channel for communication and dialogue. Asking these questions also shows the nursing home staff that they matter, you trust them, and you value their opinions.
At the end of the day, we all want positive attention and affirmation. In a job as thankless as working at a nursing home can be, a compliment here or there can also go a long way.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things simply go wrong. This can include a breakdown in communication. You or your loved one or the employee might be having a bad day. There might be a difference of opinion that escalates and gets out of hand.
No matter the cause, if an issue does arise with an individual caregiver or the facility, it’s good to listen and hear the other side out. That said, if the conflict involves the care of your loved one, you will still need to be assertive and make your demands loud and clear.
Not every dispute needs to result in calling the manager or reporting the staff member. If you can resolve the problem, always try to do that before bringing in a third party.
Be sure to document and make clear notes of any incidents you experience and observations you have. If you cannot resolve the problem yourself, you should report the situation to a nursing home administrator, presenting your notes and any other relevant documentation as evidence.
Both nursing home residents and their family members place an enormous deal of trust in nursing home staff. That is why it is all the more outrageous when we hear reports of elder abuse at the hands of nursing home employees.
Elder abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, or involve financial manipulation, forced feeding, or neglect.
As with anything else, being proactive is the key. In the case of elder abuse, it’s always good to be aware of the signs of abuse so that you can spot the problem right away and immediately take action.
The symptoms of elder abuse may include bruises or cuts, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, fear, becoming more emotionally withdrawn, or unexplained financial expenses.
You can report nursing home abuse to any of the following agencies. You can also report it to your state’s authorities.
he U.S. Administration on Aging offers an Eldercare Locator, which has a toll free hotline you can call at 1-800-677-1116.
Another government agency that deals directly with abuse is the National Center for Elder Abuse. They have a toll-free hotline at 1-855-500-3537.
As a last resort, you can also contact the federal authorities directly. In fact, the Department of Justice has a toll-free number specifically for handling elder abuse cases at 1-800-877-8339.
If you suspect that an elderly friend or family member is being or has been abused in a nursing home, you may want to consider getting in touch with a qualified attorney who has experience in nursing home litigation.
There’s a good chance that you or your loved one will be eligible to receive compensation for the harm that was caused. Remember, until justice is served against those who are responsible for abuse, the perpetrator will still be able to continue harming vulnerable seniors.
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