Last weekend there was a W5 report about abuse in nursing homes - abuse by staff members toward residents. Every now and then there are news shows or articles about abuse in nursing homes so on some level this is not new information. However, this is precisely why one would ask, why is this still happening?
One would think that with legislation and inspections - as well as professionals who presumably choose to work with seniors and recognize the need to provide good care - the numbers would be few and far between. Instead, the report leaves one wondering how many more situations occur that are simply not reported.
Individually and as a society, we have zero tolerance of abuse. And when it comes to the most vulnerable, I would expect that we have a heightened sense of how wrong it is. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a family to entrust someone else to care for their loved one. Taken one step further how horrible must it feel to know that you trusted the wrong person/people and for your mistake, a person you love has endured what no one should have to.
So what's the answer? We have laws. We have education. We have inspections - but - not daily, weekly or monthly. Unless an inspector sits in every home, day and night, we have to find a way to trust that appropriate care is being given. As easy as it is to jump to conclusions from these sort of stories, we can't be afraid to trust people to provide the care that they have been trained to provide.
As much as I wish we could 'trust blindly' - simply because a home has been given a license to operate, doesn't mean we don't have to do our due diligence when it comes to choosing a place and ensuring that good care is being provided. I believe that we can never research too much - the problem is, we often don't have the time to research because no one 'chooses' to be in a nursing home - it's usually circumstance that leads one to go to a home and often, by that point, there isn't the time to check into a multitude of homes. There may also be limits and restrictions in terms of the type and the number of homes you can choose.
So what can you do to limit the risk for the choices you make? Talk to people who have been through or are going through the process. Go on tours. Talk to people on those tours. Ask as many questions as you can on those tours. Observe the residents. Observe the home's surroundings. Talk to residents. Talk to families visiting the home. Talk to staff members. Find out how things operate. Find out any concerns. Read inspection reports. When your loved one gets into a home, make yourself known to the staff. Visit often. Get to know other families and residents. If your loved one is able to share information, ask them about their experience. Watch, look and listen when you are there. Don't ignore your gut feelings or concerns. If there are any concerns at all, speak to the appropriate people right away. Educate yourself and those around you. Join or start a family council.
Ultimately, the more involved a caregiver you are, the more likely you will be able to be aware of issues as they arise.
By and large, I would like to believe that most homes are good, most caregivers do 'care' and do their utmost to provide good care however, often a few bad eggs spoil it for the many good and make us more aware of problems that can occur. Burying our heads in the sand or believing that it's someone else's responsibility or problem is simply not the answer. Looking out for each other, is.