THANK YOU so much for writing this--my Mom, 84, had a very similar experience last year. Generally quite healthy and independent but suffered serious health problems after an adverse reaction to a generic bp medication. Was shifted from intensive care to hospital long-term and finally into 'best' nursing home in our area for short-term rehab. Luckily brother and I alternated visits to be with her as much as possible in person.
From the beginning I found staff weirdly intrusive in useless ways and totally absent when needed. They also treated Mom as a helpless befuddled old person though cognitively she was doing quite fine and since she used to be a banker, knew more than they did about the financial aspects.
BTW, after some strange exchanges I finally figured out they were actually listening in on our phone calls?!?! (on the phone they charged us for? and 'installed' for $36 by sticking the cord in the wall?). At one point staff 'confronted' her for 'talking to outsiders' (me) about the horrific SLOP they were feeding these people--and a nurse called me at work to do the same?!
Mom was supposed to be on a restricted diet. Though sick, Mom was clicking on all pistons and stressed her concern about the diet, set by her doctor. We'd been led to believe they worked in tandem with the doctor only to have one of the so-called nurses tell me 'if he has anything to say, he can call us'--which I immediately relayed to her doctor and his wonderful nurse.
The "home" then insisted their diet was heart-healthy (slop, ice cream and oh yes, ice cream). When there in person, I ate with Mom on most occasions and almost gagged at some of the offerings. She generally ended up with canned soup and then the twice-daily ice cream. They actually gave some patients insulin shots at the table while shoving thickly iced cake in front of them--how's that for healthy? I'd love to know how many of their patients *develop* diabetes after eating there too long?
Mom had agreed to this stay with the understanding she'd get intensive, twice daily physical therapy. For the period when Medicare supposedly helped pay, she got very half-hearted PT and the home insisted she could not walk on her own, had to have a helper--but try to find one. Lovely tiny garden outside -- but nowhere to sit for these older, often ill residents.
When the Medicare money ran out, the home assured us Mom would still get 'rigorous' PT and it would be included in their regular charge. Guess what--she got NO PT whatsoever, even 'pretend' PT, except that by then she was able to leave with me and could walk around the mall a little.
Oh yes, at that point she had to use an oxygen tank as well. One day while I was with her, she tripped over the base (easy to do) and ended up falling on top of it so that the handle really banged against her skull-- a horrible fall, though thank God, after a few seconds she appeared to be all right. Staff told me they'd check her every hour or so--I went to the charge nurse to confirm this?--but in fact they only did a couple of times and ignored her comments about her arm hurting badly. I blame myself I didn't call her doctor; Mom seemed ok and made it clear she did NOT want her stay extended due to this--but when we saw him soon after, he was incensed. Protocol was, she should have been taken to an ER and they should have called him immediately--as he had told them to do, even at home--but they didn't want that 'on their record.'
After about a week, when it became clear there would be no real PT, spoke with my brother (who'd also spent time out there with Mom) and then Mom. We already knew she was eager to get out. Her doctor at that point agreed she was getting no value from the experience and 'could buy a lot of help for that money.'
Had she stayed at the home for PT, I am sure she would only have deteriorated, though the staff insisted they were 'worried how she would get on' when she was OK'd by her doctor to leave. BTW they later charged her a humongous amt for 'their' PT (though not provided) and Medicare later 'retroactively' greatly reduced the PT benefits--so she'd have done as well staying at home with a phalanx of helpers (and much cheaper than what that stay in H--- ended up costing). BTW after being paid $9000 for her 5? weeks, the home attempted to put the same claim through her secondary insurance.
The home had told us they routinely dealt with short-timers but clearly didn't want to lose customers. (They also didn't really seem to understand how to bill for this.) They told Mom a few times that they 'assumed' a 6-month stay?! -- which isn't exactly individualizing care.
As it was, the only help she ended up getting, upon coming back home, was a twice-monthly maid service --which she really has come to like. Very motivated, she quickly got back into the swing of a morning breakfast at McDonalds--where they now look out for her, since it's hard to balance things on her walker--and then a whiz or 2 around the inside of the mall, sometimes stopping, sure, for a breather. When she was finally cleared to travel recently to visit out my way (and brother's), Mom was moving pretty darn quickly on the walker and only needs to use it due to dizziness caused by a medication she has to take.
The other critical aspect was, like the fellow in this story, she is still lively, interested in current events etc. but at that nursing home, other than me or brother, had no one to talk too. Many of the folks there (probably without visitors?) appeared very sedated, propped up in wheelchairs...there was an activity director and room--but just one huge TV set, no books, no computer, no games. TVs in the rooms had not been updated for digital so had mostly infomercials. Magazines we brought were thrown out by staff!
If you have someone go in, even temporarily, make sure they have a phone from Day 1 (I finally got Mom to accept a cell phone after all this)--and make sure you or someone who cares is there to show up, each and every day, several times a day--or at the least, let them know you will be calling. A lot. And make sure as you point out here, that the GP is aware immediately of your person's admissions to hospital, to long-term, and establishes contact with them. (This place seemed upset that we ensured Mom got out for doctor appointments--but in fact they had no doctor on call, one RN as charge nurse and a great many people called nurses who in fact had taken a weekend certificate course.)
Sorry to go on so long--but this is so important and I am still haunted by the folks out there who didn't have someone to watch out for them--Cassie