We are very unhappy with the level of care at dad's current nursing home, what should our next steps be?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Skiertilltheend asked...

My father is temporarily in a nursing home. He went in for a couple of weeks for physical therapy, and due to some complications from his heart surgery, it has been 2 months. He contracted MRSA while he was in either the nursing home or the hospital. He is to have an IV of antibiotics everyday at 9:00 AM until potentially July the 4th. My sister went into his room yesterday, and he had not had his IV for 3 days. She commented on it to him , and the nurse overheard her. The nurse came in and gave my sister a long drawn out explanation about orders and the like. We have not been happy with the care he has received at this nursing home. His room is not clean, and he is not clean. He wants out and we want him out, but Medicare is paying for it and I don't know what our options might be. I want to know what our next step might be. Another nursing home is not an answer because they don't want to deal with the MRSA. My sister is going to talk to the attending Doctor when he makes his weekly rounds next week. I want to know when we might want to involve a lawyer?

Expert Answers

Kay Paggi, GCM, LPC, CGC, MA, is in private practice as a geriatric care manager and is on the advisory board for the Emeritus Program at Richland College. She has worked with seniors for nearly 20 years as a licensed professional counselor, certified gerontological counselor, and certified geriatric care manager.

Call you local Ombudsman, every county in the U.S. has an Ombudsman. These are the liaison between nursing homes and their residents. A bad report from the Ombudsman can hurt the reimbursement rate from Medicare, so nursing homes staff are careful not to have an bad report. http://www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman This site will help you locate your local office.

Meanwhile, you can ask for an appointment with the administrator (insist on it) and discuss the oversight with him. Tell him you have contacted the Ombudsman and you want to know what measures he will take to improve the nursing staff, and to ensure that medications are given as ordered. Get it in writing.

You can also contact the physician following your father in the nursing home, and let him know that the medication was not given as you thought it was ordered. Ask him to clarify the instructions if you misunderstood, and or talk to the nurses if you are correct and they missed several doses.

Unfortunately, studies show that patients who have family or representatives in the nursing home often do better than families who cannot be present frequently. You must make it your business to check his medications daily; try to do this politely, without being offensive. Explain that you monitoring his medications, bathing, oral hygiene and nutrition to make sure that his health improves while he is in the facility. In this way you make yourself part of the nursing team, rather than an adversary.