11 Signs of a Bad Nursing Home

Industry Observer

Making the decision to find a nursing home for your loved one is a very difficult task and a tough choice to make. There are a plethora of options in every city, but it's extremely important that you do your due diligence when finding a proper home that checks all of the boxes. Nursing home abuse and neglect is a serious issue that affects millions of people across the United States, and there are at least 1.5 million Americans who rely on nursing homes for care. So, while there are options, because of the high demand, many nursing homes have been caught taking advantage of families and elders who rely on their care.

A simple walk-thru is not enough to deem a nursing home stable for your loved one. Here are a few warning signs to look out for when trying to identify bad care at a nursing home.

11 Red Flags to Look Out For

  1. Unanswered or deflected questions: This pertains when you are fist reaching out to a nursing home, if communicating with them is difficult, or they never really answer your questions with details, this might be a red flag. If they don't try to impress you, you can only expect the worst types of service once your loved one lives there. 
  2. Frantic, discordant, or inadequate staff: If you visit a facility and you notice the staff is scrambled if they aren't organized and it seems like a mess, this might be a warning sign that they might not handle your loved one's situation well. You need to make sure the facility is run well and that staff is professional and not inadequate.
  3. Bad Odors: A bad smell is an easy red flag to observe when visiting a facility. If you notice it as soon as you step in, that is an immediate sign that something is not being run properly. If the staff makes excuses when you ask about the smell, that's also a reason not to choose a facility,
  4. Signs of no privacy for the residents: Residents have the right to privacy, if you are visiting a facility and you are seeing exposed residents with no privacy, this is a sign that staff is not taking care of their patients well.
  5. Use of restraints: The use of restraints is a red flag because the government no longer allows the use of restraints at nursing homes. So, keep an eye out for them. 
  6. Lack of help with eating: Nurses should be helping residents eat if you witness people struggling to eat by themselves and no one is offering to help, beware. 
  7. Health Inspection Violations: Before visiting a facility, check if the nursing home has any health inspection violations. There are many places where you can find this information, depending on what state you reside in, there is a different website to check, but you can find a list here.
  8. Continuous ringing of phones or unanswered calls: If you are in the middle of your tour and the phones are ringing off the hook at the facility and there is no one taking care of it, this might be a sign of understaffing or that they are not prioritizing those calls. 
  9. High staff turnover: This is something you might not notice until your loved one is living at the nursing home, but it can be a big red flag if your nursing home has a revolving door of caregivers. You want someone who your loved one can be comfortable around and feel at home. 
  10. Understaffing: This is a serious problem in many nursing homes because there is a lot of work to be done and being a caretaker can be such a difficult job that it is never a good sign when your nursing home is struggling to pay as much attention as they can to residents. Little problems can quickly turn into big issues if nursing homes are understaffed. 
  11. Dirty Rooms or bathrooms: This is very important because the minute you see things are unkempt or dirty, you need to be concerned about how a facility is run. You want to make sure everything is clean and tidy so that you are assured that your loved one is not at risk fo catching an infection or living in a comfortable and clean space. 

According to Philadelphia attorney, Jeff Rosenbaum, untreated pain amounts for nearly 50% of nursing home neglect. This is a very high number, and this makes it even more important to make sure your nursing home is following rules and keeping your loved one safe. Warning signs aren't always obvious but, if you see any of the listed red flags, you need to take action immediately.