Keep your loved ones safe and well
Remember the care home is now your loved one's home and as such should be treated no differently to when they were in their own home.
• Visit at different times of the day
It is important to see what is happening around the clock. Our experience leads us to believe that the staff know when you are coming and make an extra effort when you are there but may not be so attentive when you are not. Be aware if your loved one is always sitting in the same chair or is constantly in bed. This could indicate a lack of interaction or stimulation which could lead to pressure sores developing.
• Help with their dressing, bathing and toileting
This gives you the opportunity to visually check them over for any injuries. This is one of our biggest regrets as this simple action would have brought a lot of problems to our attention much earlier and saved our loved ones much pain and suffering. Things like pressure sores, cuts and bruises should all be documented and advised to you by the carers.
• Visit their rooms
Check that all equipment they need is available and in working order. Are there sufficient toiletries clothes etc. The resident's notes should be available in the room but if not ask to see them. Look at them to see what has been recorded in them. Are they complete? Resident health record should show their weight (so look for large changes) and list the medication they should be taking. Is the bed linen clean and changed regularly?
• Embroider their names on all of their clothes so they can be correctly returned from the laundry
There is nothing worse than seeing your loved one in strangers clothes or their own clothes on someone else. Whilst not a health or safety issue you have to ask yourself if the home can't get this simple process right then what does it say about the management of the home. What else don't they care about - get right?
• Mood/Character changes
If your loved one appears to be out of character or withdrawn then ask the question what could be the cause for the change in mood. Tell the staff about the change you have noted and ask for an explanation of why its happened. By doing this you are putting the onus upon the staff to provide an answer.
• Get to know the staff
Build up a rapport with staff. Don't be afraid to complain or ask questions. They are there to help and that you are only expressing concern over your loved one. If they become obstructive or defensive ask yourself WHY? You need to be specific with your questioning because general comments such as "They are ok" can hide a multitude of sins. If your loved one is immobile ask the direct question about whether or not they have pressure sores or any other ailments.
• Look out for signs of Dehydration
It is important to keep hydrated as continued dehydration can have a serious impact on health. Obvious sign is someone who drinks thirstily and quickly and could well indicate a lack of fluid intake throughout the day. Apart from dry looking skin and being more wrinkled than usual a simple test is the back of the hand. Hold the skin up in a gentle pinching action and release. If the skin goes back flat quite easily then it is hydrated but if it stays pinched for a few seconds then this is a sign that fluids are needed and that questions need to be asked.
• Weight management
Sometimes it is visually obvious that there is a change in weight but by looking at your loved one’s notes regularly, weight measurements can be seen, changes can be quickly identified and questions posed as to why there has been an increase/decrease. Clearly small changes should not be a concern but larger changes, which can happen quite quickly, should be investigated.
If you are not happy with the standard of care
Don't accept excuses for their failings. They owe your loved one a duty of care and should be organised to cater for any eventuality. Failing to provide adequate care should result in:-
- Complain to the member of staff
- Complain to the manager
- Complain to the home owner
- Complain to the Local Authority
- Complain to the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (applies to homes in Wales only)
- Any complaint should include any or all of the above, in an order appropriate to the severity of the complaint.