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Recognizing Nursing Home Red Flags

Recognizing Nursing Home Red Flags
Nursing Home Red Flags

Currently, it costs about $9,000 to $12,000 a month for an elderly individual to live at a long-term nursing home facility in Florida. For that kind of money, you would think that the residents would have all of his or her needs met. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. According to the National Association of Nursing Home Attorneys, 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes have such low staffing levels that they are unable to provide adequate care for residents. There are more than a quarter of a million complaints made by nursing home residents and their loved ones about the facilities and the care that is being provided. Not all of these shortcomings are immediately apparent, but there are certain nursing home red flags that you can look for.

5 Nursing Home Red Flags That May Signal Substandard Care

There are many signs that could suggest that nursing home residents are not receiving the highest quality of care. The following nursing home red flags are some of the most common to keep an eye out for when choosing a home.

Unanswered Phone Calls and Rude/Unhelpful Staff

If it seems that the facility is chaotic, complete with phones that are forever ringing and nurse call lights from residents' rooms are forever blinking, it is a red flag that the facility is understaffed. Additionally, federal nursing home reform has granted a number of rights to those living in nursing home facilities, including the right to have visitors at any time so long as it does not bother others. 

If you are having a hard time getting your questions answered, or if the staff comes across as rude or harried, they are likely understaffed and as such would not be able to provide the level of care you seek. Additionally, if you do not see any visitors at all, and if staff does not seem willing to show you the full facility, this could be a red flag that they are hiding something.

A Dirty Facility or Strong Odors

Well-staffed facilities are kept clean. While it is not unusual for there to be odors involved in the care of elderly and infirm residents, these odors should not be overwhelming. There are numerous health ramifications to having vulnerable people living in a facility that is dirty and not well maintained. Keep an eye out for the state of linens and food service utensils, and pay close attention to corners, countertops, and other potentially uncleaned areas.

The Current Residents Don’t Appear Well Cared For

Neglect is the failure to meet the resident's basic needs, including food and water, shelter, medical needs, and personal hygiene. If the residents appear dirty, poorly groomed, or dressed incorrectly for the weather, this could be a sign that the staff does not provide the level of care one would expect in a nursing home.

There Are Few Opportunities for Socialization

Another of the rights granted to nursing home residents through federal nursing home reform legislation is the right to have a choice of activities. Activities are important in a nursing home environment, as they can help the resident to remain physically and mentally engaged and also provide a chance to socialize. If the nursing home staff fails to provide a selection of activities that your loved one can choose to participate in, it is a red flag that there is not sufficient staffing or an effort being made to maintain a quality of life for the residents. 

Make sure to pay attention to the activities available to residents, and try to find out how many residents participate in these activities on a regular basis. If the facility appears empty, and if few people are socializing, this is a big red flag.

Hesitation to Discuss Fees or Billing Practices

If you are speaking with a potential nursing home, and they are evasive or hesitant to discuss the details of their fees, you should be very wary. Be sure that you fully understand every fee that they charge and how their billing works. If they cannot or will not provide a thorough and transparent explanation, something is amiss. Do not choose a nursing home until you have received all of the financial information.

How Can A Medicaid Planning Attorney Help Me Pay For A Nursing Home? 

Nursing home care is not cheap. Once you have found a facility that provides the level of care that you seek, determining how to pay for it is the next thing you will need to figure out. A Medicaid planning lawyer puts together strategies to help their clients pay the exorbitant costs associated with long-term care and protect their assets so they have something to pass onto their heirs.

If you need help qualifying for Medicaid, or with any other aspect of paying for a nursing home or other long-term care facility, I encourage you to reach out right away to schedule a consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 most common complaints about nursing homes?
There are many different complaints that people may have in regards to a nursing home. The most common complaints tend to revolve around one of the following issues:
  • Staffing issues
  • Response rates to calls
  • Food quality
What makes nursing home care bad?
The main reason that some nursing homes may provide substandard care, is due to the shortage of nurses who want to work in such a facility. When looking for a nursing home, be sure to pay careful attention to the ratio of nurses to residents in order to know that adequate care will be provided.
Who pays for a nursing home if you have no money?
Nursing home care is far more expensive than many people anticipate. Medicaid is one possible solution for paying for a nursing home or other long-term care facility. The problem with Medicaid however, is that their qualifications are very strict. If you believe you will need assistance paying for long-term care, get in touch with an experienced Medicaid planning attorney as soon as possible.
Jason Neufeld is the author of the

Florida Medicaid
Planning Book

How to Get Medicaid to Pay for Some or All of Your Long-Term Care Expenses:Without having to wait 5 years | without having to sell your house | without have to go broke first! (a Florida Medicaid Lawyer's Guide For Non-Lawyers)


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