If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, you may be on high alert about COVID and long-term care news. It is concerning to hear about the swift spread of COVID through facilities that held the most vulnerable demographic of people. What went wrong? And how can changes be made to ensure seniors and staff are safe?
COVID and Long-Term Care Concerns
As you consider the safety of long-term facilities, let’s explore the issues that have been magnified during COVID.
- Close Contact with Staff Members: Nurses and staff are in close contact with the residents of long-term care facilities. Many of the residents have health issues and are aging. Leaving them vulnerable to everyday sicknesses that could take a serious turn if they were to catch them. In addition, when staff members bring in illness off the streets and fail to wear PPE (personal protective equipment), this can lead to widespread sicknesses throughout the facility.
- Insufficient Staffing: COVID-19 has revealed extreme staffing issues with long-term care facilities. Many employees are overworked or not adequately monitored because there aren’t enough workers to supervise and enforce the regulations.
- Medication Errors and Neglect Due to Understaffed Facilities: Nursing errors, such as medication mix-ups and failure to follow doctor’s orders, are more common when the staff is overworked and hurried. These errors can lead to fatalities among the residents.
- Employees Bouncing from Location to Location: It is common to have employees who work in several long-term facility locations. As they expose themselves to several different places, they are more likely to get sick and spread it among all work sites.
- Shortage of PPE: Because of this close contact with the vulnerable populations, it is imperative that staff wear PPE. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many facilities.
- Residents Sharing Rooms: Shared rooms in long-term care facilities can lead to the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. However, when social distancing is implemented, the residents can stop the spread of sickness in its tracks.
When COVID-19 was new to long-term care facilities, there weren’t proper procedures in place to reduce the spread of this severe illness. As COVID and long-term care problems continue to arise, look for facilities that are implementing COVID-19 safety practices. And always stay vigilant, watching for signs of abuse and neglect inside your loved one’s long-term care facility.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect in Long-Term Care
If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, you should watch for any signs of neglect or abuse. Unfortunately, some of these signs are not obvious. If you notice something is slightly off, contact a lawyer to find out how to resolve the issue. This will also keep it from happening again in the future.
Look for these signs of abuse and neglect during COVID and long-term care:
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Disinterest in usual hobbies or activities
- Never left alone to talk
- Not sleeping well
- The appearance of bruises
- Acting nervous or nonverbal when someone comes into the room
- Staff’s failure to keep records in medication logs or doctor’s orders
- Staff’s avoidance to answer questions
If you notice any sign of stress or frustration from your loved one, you owe them a full investigation into the issue. If you are not receiving answers from the facility, contact a lawyer who will find the answers you need.
How to Stay Involved with Your Loved One’s Care
The best thing you can do for your friend or family in a long-term care facility is to stay involved in their life. You will never discover a case of neglect or abuse if you are not closely involved in your loved one’s care.
Here are some tips on how you can be more present:
- Schedule a weekly video call. It is best to speak to your loved one on a video call so that you can see facial expressions and recognize clues to any mistreatment. Ask for a tour of the room during each call and take notes on the cleanliness of the facility.
- Visit in-person. Many long-term care facilities are welcoming in visitors, especially if you have been vaccinated. Even if the visits are held outside for safety, you can still learn a lot more about the facility when you visit in person.
- Call and talk with the staff. Keep in close contact with the staff. When they know their patient has a family member who cares, they are more likely to stay on their toes and pay close attention. Then they can answer your questions confidently the next time you call.
- Send cards and letters. Lift your loved one’s spirits with different forms of cards and letters. Include drawings and colorful paintings that they can tape up on their walls.
- Decorate their room for the holidays. You can visit the facility and liven up their room with decorations around each holiday. Bring in some homemade décor by kids in the family. By doing this, you send a message to the staff to let them know this resident is cared for and loved.
Staying involved in your family or friend’s day-to-day long-term care is the best thing you can do to ensure the staff pays close attention to their needs. If you ever feel uncomfortable about an exchange with a staff member at the facility, reach out to a team of experts who can help you get to the bottom of potential issues. Listen to your gut and know when to take action.
Contact Law Experts
Our team at Wormington & Bollinger wants to help you be prepared for the warning signs that point to problems with COVID and long-term care. If you have noticed any change in your care or a loved one’s care, do not explain it away. Instead, contact us today to look into your options. Our team of lawyers will ask questions and demand answers. Sometimes it takes calling on help to discover what is really going on in your long-term care facility.