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To learn about nursing home neglect, speak with volunteers

Perhaps you volunteered at a nursing home once, so you know about the bonds that develop between volunteers and residents.

Now, your elderly parent is a resident in a busy nursing home, and you worry about neglect as well as abuse. Could a volunteer provide you with information the staff holds back?

Running a business

You did your research and undoubtedly feel that you chose the best nursing facility available for your mother. However, as much as you would like to think that residents are the priority, a nursing home is a business first and foremost. Those in charge will often maintain as small a staff as possible to cut costs and boost profits. That may translate to reduced care for residents, which is where volunteers come in.

Volunteer insights

Volunteers help nursing home staff by spending time with residents in one way or another. Some volunteers take residents out for shopping and lunch while others stay onsite to play cards or board games with them, help them walk, push their wheelchairs, tidy their rooms or provide simple companionship. As you probably know, volunteers receive training to recognize age-related issues, and they would be a good source of information about your mother. If, for example, the nursing home staff is less than forthcoming in discussing why your mom suddenly developed a bedsore or why her naturally sunny disposition has turned into depression, you want answers. You may get more detailed information from a volunteer who has come to know your mom than from a staff member who may not want to divulge any more facts than necessary.

Seeking help

In addition to learning as much as you can from a volunteer familiar with your mother, you can help your cause by making frequent—and unannounced—visits. Staff members will often give more attention to a resident whose family members become regular visitors. If you feel that your mother is not receiving the care and attention she deserves, has become neglected or abused in any way, explore your legal options. Help is at hand with an advocate who can look into nursing home accountability and protect your loved one’s rights.