According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, more than 1.3 million Americans occupy more than 15,000 nursing homes throughout the nation. As the baby boomer generation ages, these numbers will skyrocket. Their families will want them to receive the best care, and—unlike previous generations—their families will be much more fluent in researching what is and is not acceptable.
As a health care provider, we know that you want what’s best for those in your care as well. However, with a busy staff and patients who often struggle with conditions that affect memory and bodily functions, things can get challenging.
How can you prevent unintentional nursing care neglect?
- Use a rigorous interview process for all new staff, screening well for responsibility, reliability, competency and compassion.
- Ensure you are fully staffed at all times with properly trained individuals.
- Educate your staff on frequently asked questions, so that staff is not scrambling to come up with answers for families when asked.
- Set clinic guidelines for things like answering call lights. How soon will you answer a call light? Make it a short time frame.
- Create policies that monitor residents’ eating habits closely, as malnourishment and dehydration are a key sign of neglect.
- Monitor high-risk residents closely to prevent incidents and protect them and other residents from harm.
- Create a positive atmosphere that makes people feel safe and at home. Host events and activities for the residents that they will be interested in and will want to attend to encourage socialization.
- Make improvements. This shows that you are constantly looking to better the home and experience of your residents.
As health care providers, it’s your responsibility to protect your residents from negligence—and yourself from a negligence suit. Start with these steps and get creative thinking about what else might help you not only prevent bad care but also improve care in general at your nursing home facility.