Forbes’ recent article, “How Nursing Homes Can Destroy Families,” says that we depend on the people with the most experience to help us through this. However, it does not always work out for the best. In that case, as the situation for a loved one continues to deteriorate and as family members try to address mounting issues, it can take a toll on relationships. Let’s look at some of the factors:
Poor Organization. See if there’s a clear chain of command at the nursing home and find out who you should contact with your questions. Get one person to work with in order to avoid confusion. There may be a high turnover rate among employees, so try to maintain contact with the highest-level staff member and secure a secondary contact.
Misinformation. In workplaces with high turnover, some may be unsure of their own roles. Whether the staff members are new, poorly trained, or even disinterested in their positions, this is problematic because you’re relying on these employees for critical information. To avoid this, try to discuss things with one person and document every interaction. You may consider making email your primary mode of contact, so you have a written record of everything that’s been said. That record may be valuable, if there’s an issue.
Staffing Problems. Nursing homes struggle to keep employees, especially the good ones. You may quickly see how much this impacts the quality of care at many different levels, for your loved one. This could present itself in poorly maintained rooms or poorly maintained records. An understaffed senior residence can be a dangerous place. However, there may be little that you can do. This isn’t an uncommon issue and seniors could be left being neglected. Make the effort to be friendly with the staff and show them you’re invested. It will send the message that you’re kind but persistent.
Family Fighting. Families can battle over the care plan or squabble over assets, and tempers may flare. The nursing home setting may worsen this dynamic. In addition to the frustration with any gaps in care, family members may find themselves arguing about all sorts of issues.
Medical Malpractice. In some instances, a nursing home resident can be physically or mentally harmed by negligent medical care.
As part of your comprehensive estate plan we recommend that you have an Advanced Health Care Directive appointing someone to act on your behalf to make medical decisions for you when you can’t and a HIPAA Release authorizing your medical providers to release your protected medical information to your family and/or friends so that there is a second set of eyes reviewing what is going. It also helps to have an advocate for you making sure you are being taken care of properly.
Prepare in advance and know that this is going to be a stressful chapter in your family’s history. Any existing issues may easily worsen in these circumstances, so try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. If necessary, speak with an elder law attorney, who can help advocate for your loved one and help your family navigate through these tough times.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Forbes (April 28, 2018) “How Nursing Homes Can Destroy Families”