Monday, January 16, 2017

Protect LTC Residents: Stop, Look, Listen,Take Action

Visiting the other day at Mom's old facility, daughter and I were  walking down the hall and heard someone calling out. We turned toward the voice, saw a woman half hanging off a bed and asked if she needed help. "Yes, please," came the reply. "I'm stuck. I can't move. I'm afraid I'll fall!" 

The resident's "call button" was connected to a chair she sometimes sat in but now she was in her bed. 

Even if it had been "on the bed" she wouldn't have been able to reach it and summon help.

The woman was head first hanging over the bed and she was obviously struggling to maintain control of her upper torso; with both legs amputated, she had little control in that position.

I stood beside the bed and blocked further movement down the bedside. Not knowing what other physical challenges the woman had, we were both reluctant to move her.

Daughter went to get help. She returned saying she couldn't find anyone in the same hall or in the adjoining hall.

Finally, daughter who was standing outside continually looking for someone for assistance, spotted an Aide (not sure if a CNA or simply a Nursing Assistant) coming down the hall. Apparently she'd heard someone was looking for assistance for a resident.

She stopped in front of daughter and told her she should be with the person she'd come to visit and not in another room. Trying to explain the resident's need, the Aide was adamant daughter "did not belong" in another room in the facility instead of moving immediately to assist the resident.

Daughter stood her ground. She'd found a resident in need and in a dangerous situation not able to summon help. Aide should have been grateful someone was passing. A rush to the Emergency Room on a holiday would not be good for the resident, her family or the facility.


Missouri Law clearly states residents have the right to receive visits from anyone they choose. 

The resident was calling out for help. No one was visible. She asked the woman if she could help. She was invited to help.

Most importantly, the facility knows the medical limitations of the resident, has possibly encountered a similar challenge with the woman possibly reaching for something and finding she's "rolled" past a point in the bed where she can manage/maneuver her body.

MORE IMPORTANTLY:  The Aide, Nurses and other staff have no authority to limit or eliminate residents rights. PERIOD.  

Even if someone isn't "in need", you have the right to speak to, have conversations with and even make a report to the Department of Health and Senior Services if and when you see a system or procedure you feel is causing neglect or possible injury to or for a resident. 

RECOMMENDED:  Write a report using the time of the incident, exact location, name of the resident (if known), specific description of incident and because you are familiar with your State's Laws for Residents of Long Term Care Facilities, cite that specific section by number and content. 

Get the name or if the person does not wear a name tag that is visible (this should be a standard in the LTC industry but is not actively practiced)ask them for their first and last name and spelling. If the person does not cooperate, ensure you document by name/floor number, room number or exact location and time from beginning to end of incident. 

THEN SEND IT TO THE DHSS ASAP and make sure you ask they send a reply to what action has specifically been taken regarding your concerns stating you expect a reply within 5 business days.

NOTE:  I've been writing on the subject of safety and security for residents of Long Term Care facilities in this blog since 2013. During this time I've seen actions beginning to be taken to ensure the general public is aware and informed IF THEY KNOW WHERE TO LOOK on the web.

I've voiced my concerns about the Office of the Ombudsman and still have concerns over the lack of staff both paid and volunteer who work to protect individuals in Long Term Care Facilities and believe there should be a removal of the dictate that the Ombudsman "must be invited in" to a LTC. 

LTC's provide medical care; they provide more than a place to live. 

For someone to go into LTC, the general regulations require the resident to NEED DAILY CARE GIVING IN ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING -- usually a set minimum number of activities of daily living is required to qualify. 

We have numerous laws on the books of States regarding children but few cover the lives of Seniors living in all levels of living: Independent, Assisted and Long Term Care. 

LTC's are businesses. They rely on funds generated from the individual residents to exist. 

Far too many times violations of personal rights provided within the State Laws on Long Term Care Facilities are not known.

In Missouri, click here to see what the law is and for other states, it's as easy as Googling "rights of the individual in Long Term Care Facility in state of .........."

Protect All LTC Residents. If you visit a loved one, keep your eyes, your ears open and remember:

You have the right, you have the responsibility to report actions, systems or procedures that you see as causing immediate harm, have the potential of harming if not corrected and, most importantly, cause our most vulnerable population to live in fear in their daily life from actions they cannot control. 

The ASPCA has heart tugging commercials seeking support and funding for animals, especially domestic animals, dogs and cats. We watch and many of us contribute money or time and we are appalled at the "inhumane" treatment.

Yet each day residential facilities for our most vulnerable population are acting in similar ways that we would, if we saw it and knew about it, say is inhumane or at a level that does not provide a quality of life we would want to personally experience.

Do Not Be Fooled by what you see on "public days" -- times when families are known to visit: holidays, facility events, birthdays of a resident. Facilities have marketing, PR and other people who work to "promote" a public image of care and concern while the actual practices do not reflect this advertising.

You Can Make A Big Difference for Today and For Tomorrow in Long Term Care

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