Once your loved one is a resident in a nursing home, how do you make sure that he or she is getting the care that you were promised and that you expect? That is, what do you look for on your visits?
Visible injuries are, naturally, the type that you will pick up on right away. Examples are broken bones, cuts, scars, and bed sores (pressure ulcers). If you see signs of these types of injuries, you need to be diligent in getting to the bottom of the problem.
Ask the resident what happened to cause the injury but don't stop there. The resident may be reluctant to tell you the truth because he or she is embarrassed or, perhaps because they have been intimidated into not telling the truth. Ask the attending nurse and assistant about the injury, see what the staff supervisor knows, question the attending physician and insist on inspecting the resident's medical chart.
Neglect type injuries are more subtle and more difficult to see. These include insufficient food and water, insufficient bathing opportunities, failure to change the resident's underclothes in a timely manner if using the toilet is an issue, failure to supply adequate bathing supplies such as shampoo and soap, failure to properly assist the resident who needs help bathing, eating, walking, etc, and verbal abuse.
Your loved one may be reluctant to talk about these issues, therefore you should keep your eyes and ears open for signs of neglect. Make sure the bathroom is clean, check for odors in the bed and on your loved one's clothing, check the condition of the hair and nails to make sure they are clean. Pay attention to how your friend or relative reacts to you, ie; do they seem to be depressed, does someone who used to be talkative now sits around with nothing to say, has there been an unexplained weight loss? These types of signs are not definite indications of abuse, but they should cause you to investigate the situation carefully.