The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted a survey 20 years ago that found nursing home residents need at least 4.1 hours of direct care per day to prevent poor outcomes. Today, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, chronic understaffing in area nursing homes is a real problem. A federal staffing standard does not exist and one may wonder what can be done to ensure nursing home residents are receiving the best possible care. Consider these suggestions:
1. Ask for a care plan meeting
A care plan meeting can be requested at any time and can help address the unique needs of the resident. A care plan meeting should take place with the resident present and should include nursing home staff from all departments. Make a list of your top three concerns and try to focus on those concerns during the meeting.
2. Ask to be appointed as an essential caregiver
Essential caregivers ensure the resident receives critical support and assistance, provides direct care to the resident and can guarantee daily visits of sufficient length to benefit/support the resident even during a public health emergency.
3. Create a family council within the nursing home
Family councils are protected under the federal guidelines for nursing home care and can help create positive ways for families to work together with a collective voice. They can be a powerful force while also increasing the quality of life and well being for their loved ones living in long term care facilities. For more information about family councils visit: theconsumervoice.org
Advocating for our nursing home neighbors to receive the best possible care is not an easy task, especially when low staffing continues to be a problem. When all other advocacy efforts have failed, filing a formal complaint with the Indiana Department of Health can be another option to address care issues. It’s as simple as calling (800) 246-8909.