Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Staying Aware Regarding Long Term Care

In Long-Term Care every residents has the following rights:

  • Quarterly Care Plan
  • Medical information on their condition
  • Visitors of choice
  • Nurse 24 hour service in Nursing Homes
  • Service Plan
  • Financial billing information
  • Level of function maintained or better

I think we often think that residents of Long-Term Care do not have rights. We place them in a Residential Care Facility because they are not safe living at home or we can't give them the care they need at home. We sometimes think we can keep Aunt Alice from visiting because she may upset the resident only to realize that Aunt Alice is very important for the resident to visit with. She was part of their normal life before being placed in Long-Term Care. It is the resident's right to choose who they visit with not ours.

We make decisions about medical information not considering that the patient has the right to know what is going on. We sell their home, pack up their treasures to pay for the cost of Long-Term Care without consulting with the loved one. We don't want to bother them with such tedious details, but they have a right to know how much the facility is billing them and where the money is coming from to pay the bills.

We can't assume that lying prone in bed is the future for our loved one. They may require physical therapy to be able to sit up again. It is important that everything is done to help them regain their health to the best of our ability. Sure, people don't always get better and they may even die, but just sitting there waiting for death is not an option in most cases.

I am amazed how little we expect from Long-Term Care facilities just because we are ignorant of the rules and regulations that govern these facilities. We assume because it is much easier than learning these regulations so that we can be an advocate for our loved one that is placed in such a facility.

I learned the hard way when I ignorantly placed my mother in a Long-Term Facility. I assumed they had her best interest in their hearts. The heart ended up being translated into the financial gain they could realize from my mother if they kept her at the lowest of all expectations. If one needs full assist on anything, it means the institution makes more money than partial assist or no assist. I found her being drugged into "full assist" as it is hard to do much when you are made into being unable to do the easiest of task, because you simply cannot wrap your mind around much when you are drugged.

I was frustrated feeling in my gut that all was not as I wished. I started asking questions and learning more. Needless to say, my mother now lives with me in our home. I took all her mind altering drugs from her and she came back to mostly only partial assist or no assist on her latest evaluation.

We can't assume. Be active in the lives of those we have in Long-Term Care. Like our children in grade school, you will find more satisfaction the more you are involved. You will know what is going on. You may be pleased at what you find out as there are many very fine facilities, but for every good facility, there is one that is in it simply to make money taking shortcuts to realize the highest profit. One of the facilities I am aware of spends $1.14 per resident per day on food. Can you imagine what these meals must consist of or do not consist of!

If you ask for the State Survey from a Long-Term Care facility, they are obligated to show it to you. It will show you what the latest state survey team found when they investigated the business. Take a look. You might find an infraction of a nurse not being on duty for 24 hours in a Nursing Home; which is against the rules. You might find feeding tubes not being implemented as to the regulations. Most often is the fact that call lights are not responded to forcing someone to wet their beds. How humiliating this has to be! Be an advocate for your loved one placed in Long-Term Care. They need your love and your support. Look on the bulletin board to see a flyer giving the name and the number for the State Certified Ombudsman assigned to the facility. Call her/him. Get to know just how they can help you be the advocate you must be.

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We blog about our rural area in the Pacific Northwest . This blog is all about my life and the places where my mind wonders from day to day. Have fun reading and looking at pictures. We welcome comments.

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.