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Keeping Tabs on Family in Nursing Homes During the Coronavirus

More and more people in our community are reaching out to our legal team and voicing their concerns about their loved ones in nursing homes, especially during this extended health emergency. The isolation of nursing homes to prevent exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is leaving the loved ones of nursing home residents in the dark. More than ever, families need to communicate to make sure nursing homes are delivering attentive care and to check in on their loved ones and let them know they are loved, cared for, and still connected to their support system.

The social distancing rules to control exposure to COVID-19 have created a dangerous combination of isolation and stress, leading to increases in domestic violence. Nursing homes have high levels of stress and isolation, even without the virus and its social distancing requirements. The virus has made these conditions even worse. In order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), nursing homes were forced to ban visitation rights. Although these measures are vitally important to help to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus, the restriction on visitation could potentially create an environment without transparency or supervision, leading to increased abuse and neglect.

Being a strong advocate for your loved one is ALWAYS essential to ensuring quality care and preventing abuse or neglect. Communication is the key.

Tips for Staying Connected to Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

Keep In Regular Communication

  • Increase your frequency of calls to your loved one in a nursing home.
  • Make sure you have privacy during calls, so your loved one is completely comfortable discussing any negative experiences.
  • Avoid Yes/No questions and ask questions that require more than one-word answers (e.g., What did you eat today? When did you last bathe? What are you doing for fun? etc.)
  • Use video conferencing whenever possible, such as FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom on a camera-enabled device. Your loved one might need some help from the nursing home (See more info below).
  • Make pre-recorded video messages and send them to your loved one and/or the nursing home so they can watch them anytime they are lonely.
  • Send hand-written letters and greeting cards.
  • Send care packages. (See more info below)
  • Enlist your loved one’s family and friends to participate in these forms of communication as well.

Touch Base with Nursing Home Management

  • Ask if there are videoconferencing opportunities to replace the face-to-face contact of visits. You might need to supply a computer with a built-in camera (preferably), a computer with an attached webcam, or a handheld device like a smartphone or tablet. Many seniors struggle with technology, and others are too infirm to manage on their own. Ask if the nursing home can help schedule video calls and set up your loved one with videoconferencing. You’ll want to ensure you have privacy once the videoconference is underway.
  • Find out what medications your loved one is taking, and make sure your nursing home has an ample supply for several months, should it be necessary.
  • Make sure your nursing home has the important equipment necessary to prevent the spread of viruses: hand sanitizer in every room, personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, etc.).
  • Ask if there are any creature comforts that your loved one enjoys that you can send (blankets, puzzles, snacks, etc.). Ask what policies they have regarding care packages. They should put all packages under 72-hour quarantine so that any viruses that contacted the package can die off.
  • Ask if there are any creature comforts the staff wants or needs. These people are overworked and underpaid; so see what you can do to make their lives a little brighter. It’s both wise and compassionate to take care of the people taking care of your loved ones.

Take Action If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect

Our attorneys at Brown & Barron, LLC focus on representing nursing home residents who have been neglected or abused. We know first-hand how these facilities function, and just how vulnerable residents are to injuries. If you believe you or a family member has suffered as a result of nursing home negligence, we invite you to contact our team as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options.

To learn more about how the coronavirus is affecting nursing homes and their residents, visit our coronavirus update blog. To contact our team, call (410) 698-1717 today for a consultation.

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