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Posted September 5, 2007

Ask An Expert

Elderly Care: Beware of Lax Nursing Home Care

Q. My dad has been in a nursing home since March of this year. He has both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and is bedridden. He is also tube-fed. I generally visit twice a day.

When I went this morning, I found that he didn't have his diaper on. When I questioned an aide, I was told that it is a new procedure to not diaper the patients overnight. I asked the reason. He said it was to help prevent pressure sores. My dad has no pressure sores, and we check for this at least once a week ourselves in addition to the checking that we assume the staff is doing.

Is this a normal procedure or is it laziness on the part of the care staff? I don't want to complain if it's an accepted practice that I'm just not aware of.

Gerry T., Metairie, Louisiana.

A. This practice is absolutely ridiculous. Changing diapers as needed, good infection control, protective devices, and turning bed-bound residents every two hours prevents bedsores. I have heard about this practice before. Do they change the linens every time the resident voids?

This practice is not just laziness but pure neglect. It is bad enough that residents are not changed often enough at night. Now they can just let them lay in their dirty linen all night. It is also a way for the facility to save money on diapers.

I would file a complaint with the home’s Nursing Director and the Administrator in writing. Also see the detailed Ask an Expert posting on filing nursing home complaints. I would also make it a practice to check your dad’s body at least twice a week for bedsores. If you see them developing take pictures and date them. Most digital camera’s have a time stamping feature. Use it. Report bedsores immediately.

This answer is provided by Jack Halpern, MPS, LNHA, an eldercare advocate and a licensed nursing home administrator. Halpern, a nationally recognized expert on eldercare issues, is the author of many articles on eldercare and nursing home abuse, and is the CEO of My Elder Advocate. His website is www.myelderadvocate.com, and he can be reached at jhalpern@myelderadvocate.com.

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