For many families, the necessity of placing a loved one in a nursing home can be a fraught decision. Feelings of guilt are not uncommon, as well as concern for their well-being – especially now, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Visits during the Pandemic
There have been many news stories about COVID-19 being spread through nursing and other long-term care facilities. Fortunately, most facilities have gotten such outbreaks under control, and have strict quarantine procedures in place to minimize the chance of infection for residents. Unfortunately, because of the ongoing pandemic there are currently limits on visiting nursing home residents in most states, mandated by the state health departments.
In Arizona, you can visit your loved one in a nursing home, under these conditions:
• Masks are required
• Social distancing (6 feet apart) is required
• In Maricopa, Pima, and a few other counties, you must prove you have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of the visit.
• Call the facility first to ask about its visit policy, and to schedule a visit. Don’t assume you can just show up.
For updates on nursing home restrictions, check the Arizona Department of Health website: https://t.co/xRRu09dojZ?amp=1
Regardless of restrictions on visits, you still have the right to communicate with your loved one by phone (either a facility phone or their personal cellphone) during reasonable hours. See 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(g)(6). They also have the right to send and receive email and otherwise use the internet.
Involvement in Resident Care
Even during the pandemic, family members have the right to be informed of and participate in decisions about their loved one’s care. See 42 C.F.R. § 483.10(c). This includes:
• Being notified and invited to participate in care plan conferences
• Being notified within 24 hours of significant changes in the resident’s condition – for example, falls, injuries, a change in mental status, a bedsore, or infection
• Choosing the resident’s doctor and communicating with the doctor about their care
Concerns about Poor Care, Abuse, or Neglect
If you are unhappy with the care your loved is receiving, you should request a meeting with the facility Administrator. Express your concerns with specifics. This will often resolve the issue. If it does not, there are several steps you can take:
1. You can report suspected abuse or neglect with the State’s Adult Protective Services Agency: http://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/
In Arizona, call 1-877-SOS-ADULT or report online: https://des.az.gov/services/basic-needs/adult-protective-services
Adult Protective Services is required to investigate every complaint and notify you of their findings. If they believe the complaint is substantiated, they will turn it over to the Attorney General’s office or
local law enforcement for further prosecution. But their primary concern is for the resident: they will work to ensure the resident is safe and no longer in jeopardy, which could mean placing them at a
2. For concerns about conditions at a nursing home generally, contact the State Department of Health. In Arizona, call 602-542-0883 or report online: https://app3.azdhs.gov/PROD-AZHSComplaint-UI
3. Call the nursing home and request a copy of the resident’s medical records. By law, the home must provide you with the records within two working days. See 42 C.F.R. §
Common Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Common signs of abuse or neglect in elderly patients include:
• Bruising, lacerations, or burn marks
• Sprains or fractures, especially unreported ones
• Bedsores (also called pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers)
• Weight loss
• Malnutrition or dehydration
• Unexplained injuries
If your loved one has experienced any of these issues, call attorney Mike Wright at 480-461-5347 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options.
Prepared by Lincoln Wright, this blog is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and should not be construed as legal advice. Udall Shumway PLC is in Mesa, Arizona and is a full-service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.