Advocating for nursing home residents during COVID

by | Nov 13, 2020 | Blog, Care, Caregivers Perspective, Guardianship

Long-term facility care is difficult to manage even without COVID in the mix.  Indiana has no minimum staffing laws, state standards are not set at a high bar, there are unforeseen differences among buildings though all are licensed the same way and many employees lack basic knowledge of resident rights.

Key components for care quality include; safety, knowledgeable staff, goal oriented leadership to achieve sense of community, proximity to an advocate who can monitor care, a focus on physical therapies, affordability and a good reputation in the community among those who have experienced the care.

Here are 10 tips on how to create a higher quality care experience in a facility:

  1. Obtain the powerful tool of word of mouth about the facility whether already there or considering it.
  2. Stay in touch with the resident at various times of day at least twice per week.
  3. Strategically select which facility employees will be your go-to people.  This must include at least one person of authority in the building (social worker, assistant director of nursing, director of nursing).  Form mutually beneficial relationships with the go-to people.  This helps to remain in direct touch with loved one and to solve issues when they arise.
  4. Report consistently and politely to the go-to people all the great and bad experiences.  Diligence will prove useful.  Issues must be dealt with in real time of course AND the go-to people must be informed at next possible opportunity.  Use voice message, text, and email.  They will rise to the occasion to help or they will prove the building is no place to be.
  5. Remain professional and persistent, calm and team focused when reporting issues.
  6. Insist on quarterly Care Plan Meetings.  You do not need to wait for the facility to initiate these meetings.
  7. Call the local Ombudsman in your area to report concerns and find out if others have similar concerns:  1-800-622-4484 or 1-317-232-7134.
  8. Get to know others who are visiting loved ones in the same location because it is worth the time and helps to look out for one another’s loved one and share information.
  9. Become familiar with the Indiana State Department of Health ( survey results on the ISDH web site.
  10. Call professional advocates to find support and to understand your rights.

Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has created a list of ideas for supporting a loved one in a long-term care facility during COVID.  The list includes:

  • Use technology for more frequent video chats, emails, texts, and phone calls.
  • Send more frequent cards and letters of support.
  • Record video messages and send via email or text.
  • Visit through glass or car parade as much as possible.
  • Use of visuals to show care – ribbons on trees, planter outside, banners by room windows.
  • Send care packages regularly with photos, snacks, books, pictures, etc..
  • Make way for dedications on the in-house cable channel or intercom system – a favorite song, a favorite movie, a poem or a television show.