Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes have the legal responsibility to ensure that every resident maintains healthy nutrition and hydration levels. To meet this responsibility does not mean making sure there’s a fresh glass of water on every resident’s bedside table. Instead, it means following clear guidelines, hiring enough staff and caring enough about each resident so as not to commit nursing home abuse and neglect.
What Nursing Homes Should Do to Prevent Dehydration
It is true that the elderly are at higher risk for dehydration due to bodily changes that occur during the aging process. Even so, there are steps nursing homes can take to prevent dehydration from ever setting in:
- Build and follow a specially tailored care plan: Certain risk factors put specific nursing home patients more at risk for dehydration, including some illnesses and medications. Your loved one’s care providers should create a care plan that keeps dehydration at the forefront of their concerns and should then follow that care plan daily.
- Monitor daily health status: Doctors and nurses should pay close attention to your loved one’s health status every day, monitoring mental status, weight, medications and more. This will help to ensure your loved one does not suffer from undiagnosed or untreated dehydration.
- Create a welcoming dining environment: Eating and drinking should be enjoyable. The best eating and drinking environments include seating arrangements in calm, yet social settings. If your loved one needs assistance to eat or drink, you should make sure that those providing assistance do not cause undue stress or anxiety.
- >Hire enough staff to assist with meal times: Many nursing homes suffer from understaffing. This is a big issue during meal times when residents who require assistance barely get the time or attention they need to stay well-nourished and hydrated.
- Be ever watchful for early warning signs: Nursing home staff require training to look for the specific signs of dehydration in elderly patients. The staff should then use that training on a daily basis, and should take the time with each patient to make sure they don’t miss any of the signs.
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Holding Nursing Homes Accountable for Their Actions
By placing your loved one in the care of a nursing home, you have expectations that the home will provide the care and treatment your loved one requires to live a healthy life. It also means you trust the nursing home to employ staff members who are knowledgeable about what causes dehydration and what they can do to prevent it.
You should always check that the nursing home is meeting your expectations and earning your trust, however. Visit your loved one often, ask the staff questions, request updates on your loved one’s status and review the care plan. In the end, everyone is only human: mistakes happen. At least your actions and watchful eye can help to avoid dehydration, malnutrition and other results of nursing home neglect or abuse.
Contact us at (847) 869-9100 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.