For many, nursing home placement is inevitable. The choice of a nursing home is sometimes not as varied as one would like. Location, finances and the health of the patient are factors in nursing home placement. Nursing homes are not only for the elderly. Frequently, many young people require skilled nursing care in a nursing home environment.
One of the critical issues in nursing home care is continuous and skilled nursing care. A patient who is not able to walk, or one who is bedridden is prone to pressure sores, commonly known as bed sores. This condition, however, is not and should not be an end result of nursing home stay. Federal, state and local law have mandates to make sure each individual is accorded appropriate skilled nursing plans and respect of each patient. These mandates translate into a requirement that each patient has a skilled nursing care plan that is devised and revised. The plan, among other things, requires positioning, movement, use of air mattresses, ointment, daily grooming and hygiene, maintaining dry skin areas and being ever vigilant for skin breakdown.
Bed sores can and should be avoided. The staff of any nursing home must be observant in caring for each resident. They must also look for, detect and treat any skin breakdown before it grows, spreads and causes widespread infection.
Apart from bed sores, nursing home residents can also be victimized by abuse; which can take different forms. It is not acceptable in any form.
Risk of falls is an assessment that is undertaken when a resident is first admitted to a nursing home. This assessment should then be periodically reviewed and adjusted, depending on the resident’s history of falls. Falls, like bed sores, should not occur in the absence of negligence. If a resident is at greater risk for falls, he/she should have a specific plan in place to avoid situations where a fall is predictable: Watch the resident; make sure the resident is secure in some safe manner; put the bed rails up; guarantee that the call bell is working or that the wrist alarm is in place and in good working order. Do not put the patient in a wheelchair by the nurses’ station if no one is going to watch the patient. Falls can cause fractures, bruises, head trauma and death.
We represent many patients and families of patients who are nursing home residents suffering from bed sores, abuse and/or falls. Some have even died from one or more of these conditions. No nursing home resident is immune from these avoidable situations.