The holiday season (November, December, and January) is when everyone has a chance to visit loved ones that are residents in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. Rest assured, most nursing homes take notice of this increase in family visits and step-up their game to appear in the best possible light when visitation occurs.

This can mean anything from cleaning rooms more than normal and even increasing staff above and beyond what is typically present in the building. Kentucky, unfortunately, doesn't have staffing requirements for nursing homes so many nursing homes in Kentucky operate with the least amount of staffing possible to maximize profits. You may have seen on TV or read in newspapers that nursing homes are struggling to survive. The truth is that is most often the result of the owners siphoning off as much money as possible to pay for their private jets and vacation homes versus putting the money back into the nursing home to ensure it operates safely. A well run, profitable nursing home is easily accomplished if the owners don’t get too greedy. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen to often. But enough complaining, back to holiday visits and how they are important on many levels.

There Are Many Benefits of Holiday Visits for Nursing Home Residents

First, holiday visits are an invaluable mood lifter for nursing home residents. Multiple studies show a direct correlation between mental and physical health. This can be especially true in the context of visiting loved ones in a nursing home or long term care facility. Human social interaction is vital to mental health and therefore vital to overall physical wellbeing.

Another benefit of holiday visitations is that it gives you the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the care and treatment, or lack thereof, that your mom, dad, husband, wife, or loved one is receiving in the nursing home. Remember, most of the time nursing homes in Kentucky will be operating at their highest performance during this time of the year due to the increased visitation by family. If something isn’t going right during the holiday season, you can only image what its like when they aren’t maximizing appearances.

What to Look For When Visiting Your Loved One Over the Holidays

So what should you look for when visiting? Start with the basics:

  • Cleanliness: Are the public areas of the nursing home clean? Does it smell? Are trash bins open and exposed? Is there food outside the cafeteria? Are the bathrooms clean?
  • Lighting: Is the home dark? Is there any natural light? Are hallways and common areas light and airy or dark and drab?
  • Noise level: Is the home too loud? Are TV’s and radios blaring? Is there too much commotion at the staff desk? Are alarms going off? Are residents yelling? Is it too quite? Is no one speaking? Are residents silent? Silence can be just as detrimental as too much noise.
  • Personal space: Are the public areas too cramped? Are residents forced to be shoulder to shoulder with other residents in common areas or do they have adequate personal space without feeling isolated.
  • Climate: Is the home too hot? Too cold? Are there temperature extremes varying by location?
  • The cafeteria: Is it clean? Does it have a warm friendly vibe? Is the staff friendly to encourage sufficient eating and drinking so residents don’t become malnourished or dehydrated? Is the quality of the food sufficient?
  • Staff oversight: Are staff always present? Are residents being watched sufficiently to avoid dangerous situations such as trying to get up when they require assistance but the staff isn’t present to assist? Is there a danger of a resident wandering off? Is the staff too present?
  • The room: Is your loved one’s room clean? Is it furnished appropriately? Is it close enough to staff to meet their needs? Is their bathroom clean? Does the room have sufficient railing if needed? How is the quality of the bed? Are the mattress and bedding sufficient to help prevent bed sores (pressure sores)? Is the TV working? Is the lighting sufficient? Is there a window they can see out? Is the glass clean?

Be on the Lookout for Any Signs of Neglect or Abuse

This isn’t an exhaustive list and, as with many things, your gut will tell you what to look for and matters of which to take note. If something doesn’t seem right, make note of it and take your complaint straight to the administrator of the home. Ask to see the care plan for the resident and discuss with the home what their plan is to meet your loved one’s needs. If you don’t get the answers you require seek seek legal advice.

Gray & White has decades of success fighting for the rights of Kentucky’s nursing home residents. We handle cases in all counties in Kentucky. Contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law
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