To ensure the well-being of your loved ones in a nursing home, you must advocate for them. Residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are disproportionately affected by the flu, pneumonia, COVID 19, and other contagious diseases. According to the American Family Physician Journal, a flu outbreak in a nursing home often affects 20 percent or more of the residents.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, AARP has identified some specific questions to ask about the facility to help ensure the safety of your family member.
Inquire about vaccinations:
· What proportion of staff and residents are up to date on regular vaccinations? Compare these vaccination rates at any Medicare-certified nursing home to the state and national averages.
· How is the facility educating staff and residents regarding the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness?
· What type of access to vaccines do residents have?
Ask if anyone at the facility has tested positive for any infectious disease recently:
· Include staff, residents, visitors, vendors, maintenance workers, and anyone with access to the facility.
· How many people, if any, have tested positive?
· What is the facility testing protocol for symptomatic individuals?
Understand the steps is the facility taking to prevent outbreaks of disease:
· What are the screening protocols for staff and other people entering the facility?
· How are positive cases being handled after identification? Do staff quarantine at home? Do residents move into isolation units?
· What are the protocols for sanitizing the facility, and how often are they implemented?
· Are there social distancing measures in place? What are the precautions for residents with roommates?
Find out if the nursing home helps residents stay in contact with their families and other loved ones:
· What are the infection control measures for visitors?
· Does nursing home staff help residents call their loved ones via phone or video?
· Will the facility set up a regular schedule for residents to speak with family and loved ones?
Determine if the facility regularly communicates important information to residents and their loved ones:
· If there is an outbreak of an infectious disease within the facility, how long will it take to notify residents and their families or representatives?
· How is the information shared?
Know if the nursing home is fully staffed with doctors, nurses, aides, and other workers:
· In the event of staffing shortages, what are the backup plans to ensure the needs of nursing home residents are met? The plan should include bathing, feeding, physical therapy, medication management, and social engagement.
Ask about the maintenance of healthy-living programs:
· Are communal activities adapted for social distancing in exercising, entertainment, and socialization?
· Are any services suspended, and if so, which ones?
If you have a spouse, parent, sibling, or other loved one living in a nursing home, they depend on you to advocate for their protection and wellbeing. Asking the right questions helps ensure that their nursing home facility or long-term care services prioritize their health.
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