Susan’s Story – Monitoring and Early Detection

How a daughter learned that even in a five star nursing home, visiting isn’t enough.

susans-mom

This story illustrates several important principles: Issues can occur regardless – even in a five star non-profit facility. Frequent visiting alone cannot prevent or even uncover serious issues. Professional monitoring can lead to early detection and help prevent serious harm.

Finding a nursing home for my mother wasn’t easy. But I was thrilled with the five star home we ultimately found. It was perfect. It was run by a non-profit and affiliated with a highly regarded hospital. It was close to my home and everyone there was wonderful. My mom was treated with respect and enjoyed it there.

Like most people I knew that it was important to visit my mother often. I knew that even in the best homes problems could arise. I always assumed that visiting frequently would insure my mother would never experience any unnecessary problems.

So I visited, several times every week. Of course, I wanted to be there to give mom the love and support she had always given me and my brothers. But I was always keeping an eye out to make sure she received great care. I would question the nurses, meet with the doctor’s and check my mom regularly. I have a medical background so I felt pretty confident that I could do all of that.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. I asked Nursing Home Guardians to monitor my mom’s care. I figured that the peace of mind I’d get would be well worth it. I wanted to be reassured.

The first month I used Nursing Home Guardians I was stunned to learn that my mother was experiencing incontinence on a regular basis. I was stunned because I never saw anything wet, my mother never told me she was having any problems and no one from the home said anything.

Nursing Home Guardians quickly discovered that my mother was receiving a medication every night that she did not need. Mom was being given Lasix, a diuretic that was causing her to urinate. I had no idea she was getting this drug. She was being given it because a doctor had written an order to give it to her as needed for swelling in her legs. Mom had had a brief episode of swelling months earlier. Evidently a nurse had given her the medicine without realizing that it wasn’t necessary. Unfortunately, no one at the home caught this problem. I guess incontinence is a pretty common problem.

Fortunately, Nursing Home Guardians caught the problem before any real harm was done. I know wetting her bed may have embarrassed my mom. I’m guessing that’s why she never told me. But it could have been much worse. She could have fallen while trying to get to the bathroom. She could have developed open sores from lying in her own urine. She could have gotten serious infections.

Instead, I just brought the issue to the attention of the staff at the home and they stopped the drug. Problem solved! Crisis adverted!

Frankly, when I first hired Nursing Home Guardians I had some concern that the home would not be happy. But the staff at the home knew what Nursing Home Guardians was doing. No one was trying to catch them doing anything wrong. They realized that we all had the same goal: to make sure my mom received the care she needed. When my mother passed away, several members of the nursing home’s staff were there. There was never any tension. In fact, I suspect my mom got even better care because the home was aware that they were being monitored by a team that knew what they were doing.

I always thought that the only thing I could do to protect my mom when she went into the home was to visit often. I never would have thought that something like this could happen without me knowing. Having Nursing Home Guardians as part of the team gave me peace of mind so I could focus on the things that only I could give my mother: love, support and attention without constantly being on the lookout.

From time to time Nursing Home Guardians will share true stories that illustrate issues facing families. We will only share stories if we have permission. We will use real names, unless otherwise noted. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us.


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