Once your loved one is admitted to a nursing home, the most important thing you can do is ensure they receive good care. The best way to do that is to be involved and be your loved one’s care advocate. Your role is to actively participate in planning your loved one’s care, and maintain frequent contact with nursing home staff.
This process begins with a baseline assessment, generally done within two weeks after the new resident moves in. A team – possibly a doctor, nurse, social worker, dietitian, and physical, occupational, or recreational therapist – assesses information from both resident and family. This assessment then becomes the baseline against which progress is measured. As part of the assessment family members are asked about the resident’s medical, psychological, spiritual, and social needs. You can also tell them about their preferences and routines. It is advisable for the family to make their own list of needs, and to give it to the assessment team. For example, you may have noticed signs of depression, along with symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This information is important to help your loved one get the care they need. Important information to consider includes your loves one’s medical needs, psychological needs, spiritual needs, and social needs as well as their preferences and routines.
The assessment team then develops an individualized care plan, specifying the care required, and the strategies to address it. You should know that family members and the resident are allowed to participate in any planning meeting.
Federal law requires that nursing home care result in improvement in the resident’s condition, if possible. If improvement isn’t possible, the care must maintain abilities or slow the loss of function. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia the purpose of care should be to maintain mental and physical abilities for as long as possible. For example, if your mother still has the ability to communicate clearly, the care plan should encourage her use of language.
**PLEASE NOTE: The care plan may be part of the nursing home contract. According to federal law, nursing homes must review a plan every three months, or whenever the resident’s condition changes. There must also be an annual reassessment. At these times additional meetings are held to update the plan.
It’s your job to monitor your loved one’s care and ensure adherence to the plan. If you want your loved one to get the most personal attention possible be a forceful advocate.
At The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we’re Elder Law attorneys. We have walked families through this process successfully before. In fact, we have helped several families with estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset protection, qualifying for Veteran’s Benefits and issues with MassHealth.
To learn more about how the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center can help you register online to attend one of our upcoming Trust, Estate, and Asset Protection Workshops or register by calling (800) 964-4295 (24/7). You will discover why traditional estate planning may not work and the Life Care Planning steps you should be taking instead so you will not outlive your savings, the asset protection language that most people don’t have in their power of attorney documents which can help protect their life savings, how to qualify for the hidden Veteran’s benefits that most people know nothing about, and How Medicaid works…and the steps you need to take now to protect yourself and your family under the new rules.