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"Finding Quality Care: Your Guide to Selecting a Nursing Home and Avoiding Patient Neglect "

"Finding Quality Care: Your Guide to Selecting a Nursing Home and Avoiding Patient Neglect "

Nursing Home Neglect? What is it and how to protect your loved one?

We can not escape the aging process. However, we can make our senior years as pleasant as possible. For some, they will age at home. Others may need additional care. Choosing where to receive your additional care can be a life-changing event. Picking a post-acute care home is an important decision that requires research and evaluation. Unfortunately, with the increased number of reports of neglect in nursing homes, it is necessary to ensure that the facility being considered is dedicated to providing quality care. This article will explore what the Center for Medicare and Medicaid considers abuse and neglect. This article will also give tips on selecting the right nursing home for you or your loved one.

Types of Abuse

The issue of abuse in nursing homes is a serious and sensitive topic. Abuse of elderly and disabled individuals can take many forms, from physical to emotional, financial, and more. It is important to be aware of the different types of abuse that may occur to help protect your loved one from becoming a victim. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid described the following as abuse.

  • Abuse” means the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish, which can include staff-to-resident abuse and certain resident-to-resident altercations.  Abuse also includes the deprivation by an individual, including a caretaker, of goods or services that are necessary to attain or maintain physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.  Instances of abuse of all residents, irrespective of any mental or physical condition, cause physical harm, pain or mental anguish.  It includes verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse, including abuse facilitated or enabled through the use of technology.
  • Verbal Abuse” means the use of oral, written, or gestured communication or sounds that willfully includes disparaging and derogatory terms to residents or their families or within their hearing distance regardless of their age, ability to comprehend, or disability.
  • Sexual Abuse” is non-consensual sexual contact of any type with a resident.
  • Physical Abuse” includes, but is not limited to, hitting, slapping, punching, biting, and kicking.  It also includes controlling behavior through corporal punishment.
  • Mental Abuse” includes, but is not limited to, humiliation, harassment, threats of punishment or deprivation.  Mental abuse also includes abuse that is facilitated or caused by nursing home staff taking or using photographs or recording in any manner that would demean or humiliate a resident(s).
  • Neglect” means failure of the facility, its employees, or service providers to provide goods and services to a resident that are necessary to avoid physical harm, pain, mental anguish, or emotional distress.
  • Involuntary Seclusion” refers to the separation of a resident from other residents or from his/her room or confinement to his/her room against the resident’s will or the will of the resident’s legal representative.  Emergency or short-term monitored separation from other residents will not be considered involuntary seclusion and may be permitted if used for a limited time as a therapeutic intervention to reduce agitation until professional staff can develop a plan of care to meet the resident’s needs as long as the least restrictive approach is used for the minimum amount of time.

Choosing a Nursing Home

When selecting a nursing home for a loved one, it can be challenging to know where to start. It is essential to research the various options and ensure that the nursing home you choose meets specific standards. To provide a good experience for your family, here are some tips to help you select the best nursing home for your loved one.

  • Before beginning your search, research the facility's previous surveys. Reviewing the nursing home's previous surveys will provide you with a wealth of knowledge. The previous surveys contain the facility's previous deficiencies. The cited deficiencies can tell you a lot about the type of care being given at the facility. It is important to note that the facility has mostly likely corrected the deficiencies you are viewing.
  • While doing your research, review the facility's current star levels. Is the facility a five-star or one-star facility? What is their overall rating? Is the facility struggling with staffing? This information can be gathered by visiting Nursing Home Compare.
  • After narrowing down your search selection, visit each location in person and observe the environment and staff interactions with patients. Be sure to visit after hours and on the weekend. Visiting after hours and on the weekend will allow you to assess the staffing levels. Ask to speak with the nursing home staff if you have any lingering concerns or questions during your visit. Speaking with the team will help you feel more confident that your loved one is being taken care of by a facility that adheres to the highest standards of health care and safety.

Evaluating Care Quality

Quality of care should be at the forefront when choosing a nursing home because selecting the wrong nursing home can affect your loved physical and mental health.

Evaluating care quality starts with researching nursing homes in your area and reading reviews from past residents or family members. This will help you identify any areas where there may have been issues with neglect, improper treatment, or inadequate staffing levels. As previously stated, visiting each facility personally is highly recommended so you can get a first-hand view of the environment and staff interactions. During your visit, observe how staff interact with patients. Observe if patients appear well-kept and groomed. Are call lights being answered timely? While this list is not all-encompassing, these elements are essential indicators of quality care. 

Resources for Help

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid has developed a list of rights to which all patients are entities. Click the link to view your rights, "Patient Rights." You can also view the Nursing Home Compare website for a detailed list of the nursing home's previous citations "Nursing Home Compare"

Regulations in Place

With recent reports of neglect in nursing homes, choosing the correct nursing facility for your loved one can be challenging. The good news is that there are regulations and standards put in place by state and federal governments to ensure that nursing homes provide safe and quality care. 

Each nursing home yearly goes through a survey process to evaluate the facility's overall compliance levels. The surveyors check for appropriate staffing levels, the facility operation condition and ensure that quality care is delivered to each patient. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees the survey process. 


In conclusion, selecting a nursing home for a loved one can be overwhelming for many families. 

When deciding on a nursing home, the priority is ensuring that the nursing staff is adequately trained and equipped to provide quality care to your loved one. The best way to ensure that your loved one receives proper care is by researching and visiting potential facilities beforehand. Ask questions regarding staffing levels and qualifications of staff. If needed, question any reports or reviews you have found. Once your loved one is admitted into the nursing home, schedule follow-up visits to learn how your family member is being treated and the care your loved one is receiving. 

Ensuring you are comfortable with the facility and its staff before making your final decision is critical.

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