Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Monday, January 16, 2017

When Looking For Long-Term Care, Do Your Homework

What steps should you take when seeking a nursing home?

When Laura Rees looked for a long-term care facility for her elderly mother, she relied on the advice of the San Francisco Hospital where her mother had just had hip surgery. The hospital recommended a nursing home with the same name as the hospital, California Pacific. The hospital had provided excellent treatment and assured her that her mother would be in good hands there.

They never told her that the nursing home had received one star out of five from Medicare, the lowest rating, or that it had been cited numerous times by state inspectors for substandard care.

Laura Rees' mother died a gruesome death from a bowel obstruction after a three-week stay. State investigators cited the facility for a number of mistakes, including giving her the wrong medication.

According to advocates for nursing home reform, terrible nursing homes remain in business because hospitals make referrals to them, which patients accept without checking.

Consider Long-Term Advice from All Sources

When seeking a long-term care facility, don't assume that your hospital can be trusted. Do your own research. There are a number of steps you can take to make better choices: 

1. Consult online guides. Use Medicare's website, Nursing Home Compare and other resources, such as the Nursing Home Guide from CANHR (California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform) for ratings and information on nursing home services and violations.

2. Look for a facility certified by Medi-Cal or Medicare. Medicare may not cover the stay, and you may not qualify for Medi-Cal. Still, certification is a factor in deciding whether a nursing home passes muster.

3. Choose a long-term care facility you can visit easily and often. Frequent visits will help you monitor the quality of care and will also contribute to the patient's peace of mind.

4. Ask lots of questions. Ask about the home's handling of any special concerns, e.g. dementia. Make sure it has the expertise to address your needs.

5. Seek references. Seek the opinions of friends, acquaintances, and professionals outside the hospital. 

6. Make your own visit. Try to see as much of the facility as possible in advance to assess the circumstances of the patients, the behavior of staff, and the attitude of administrators whom you will be dealing with if your loved one is admitted.

For expert advice on long-term care planning, and for assistance if you believe a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, an experienced elder law attorney can help. Elder law experts can assist you in dealing with special needs, medical coverage, estate planning, and other areas to make a difficult transition easier

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