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Many of us family members of nursing home residents have been told one (or many) lies by nursing home administrators and/or other staff members. What ever became of honesty? Whatever became of ethical behavior? Whatever became of honest chart notes? Whatever became of telling the truth at all costs? These virtues have long disappeared from most nursing homes when it comes to employee behavior.

Some of the lies we’ve heard are fairly subtle, like when you call your loved one’s nurses station and the first thing out of the mouth of the nurse who answers the phone is a line like, “I just came from your mother’s room and she is doing really well!” Did the nurse really just leave your parent’s room just before you called to check on them? Probably not. If they did that would be great. But if they didn’t? That would be a lie.

I can’t tell you how many times nursing home Administrators, Directors of Nursing and Nurses — even one nursing home owner — promised to fix a problem I had pointed out. Only to NOT have fixed the problem or to have only managed to fix the concern for a few days or a few weeks before the problem returned. Wow. These folks know how to tell us what they believe we want to hear, but what about the follow through? Nothing like the line I’ve heard many times from Administrators that goes, “Well I can’t fix a problem if I don’t know it exists.” Really. OK, I told you. The problem either didn’t get fixed or didn’t stay fixed. Yeah, I can really trust you. Not!

womantakingwrittennotesSo what can be done to confront the nursing home employees who lie? Probably the best thing we can do is DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Yes, it will take work and a little money to accomplish proper documentation (the cost of one or more notebooks and the cost of an ink pen), but these investments are well worth it if/when the time comes to call in the state to deal with a problem that doesn’t get fixed (a problem they promised — or promised repeatedly — to fix). When you call the state you’ll need to refer to your notes to establish that the problem was called to the attention of nursing home staff. You’ll need to verify how long the problem has been going on and the times and dates you informed nursing home staff about the problem.

Summary: Good nursing home documentation regarding care concerns should always include 1) a description of the problem, 2) the name/position of who you spoke to about the problem (You don’t know their name? Ask them for their name! Many states require that all caregivers wear a name tag at all times they are on duty. If they aren’t wearing a name tag, report that as well!), 3) when (day and time) you spoke to nursing home staff about the situation (EACH time you speak to staff about your concern) and 4) a summary of the response from nursing home staff to the information you shared.

Suggestion: While you may want to save your documentation on a digital device (e.g., a computer, tablet or a digital voice recorder), remember that data stored on any device can be lost! So if you use any sort of digital device to make a record of your documentation, be sure to PRINT OUT EVERY BIT OF YOUR DOCUMENTATION and KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE in case you lose your digital data!

Another important reason to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT your conversations with nursing home management and staff goes back to the subject line of this journal entry: these people don’t tend to be oozing with honesty! So covering your tracks (and your conversations) when dealing with nursing home staff is in your best interest.

I know personally of occasions when a nursing home Administrator and a Director of Nursing LIED in their notes about what either I had told them and/or what they told me! I had a decent memory to be able to defend myself, but I really wish I would’ve had good written notes to better be able to defend myself. I know nursing home management constantly document their conversations with family members, friends and their own staff. With our own documentation available we can rest assured that one honest record of what happened will exist!

Are all nursing home staff members (or owners) pathological liars? Of course not. Many are honest individuals. Some lie only because they know that their bosses expect them to lie in order to protect the facility from lawsuits, state inspections, fines imposed by the state and other sanctions. Kudos to the brave nursing home staff members who have told the truth and paid the consequences for being honest — often times losing their job. An industry that rewards liars and persecutes honest people is in serious need for major reform!

Yesterday I received a comment about this blog from a person self-identified as a “Licensed Nursing Home Administrator”. I knew her overall comment would irritate me when I read just the first two (of the many) sentences she wrote, “Yes, there are nursing homes that could improve the quality of care they provide. I find the articles here to represent the misinformation out there about nursing homes.” 

Here are my thoughts in response to two sentences clearly written with the intention to promote DENIAL of nursing home REALITY.

To say that “there are nursing homes that could improve the quality of the care they provide” is a gross understatement of REALITY. An accurate statement would have begun with something to the effect that “It is a national embarrassment and disgrace that MOST nursing homes provide substandard care of their residents — primarily caused by a culture of corporate greed that insists on dangerously low staffing of nurses and nurses aides.” There. Much better. If you are the family member of a nursing home resident (let alone a nursing home resident yourself) you know this is the truth. To state anything less is spin. Oops…to state anything less is dishonest. Really now…to state anything less is a lie.

When I first read that the nursing home administrator believes “the articles” (actually they are more like essays, along with news and commentary through my related Twitter feed that’s posted on the left side of each page) on NursingHomeReality represents “the misinformation out there about nursing homes” I laughed out loud! Your Attention Please: The name of this blog is Nursing Home REALITY, not Nursing Home Spin or Nursing Home Deception or Nursing Home Public Relations-Generated Lies! You see, as it’s name implies, this blog is dedicated to telling the TRUTH about the REALITY of nursing homes.

TRUTH about the neglect, abuse and criminal harm done to nursing home residents by their caregivers and management. TRUTH about the abusive treatment suffered by family members and friends when they dare confront (let alone report) the REALITY of their loved one’s nursing home nightmare.

“Nursing Home Apologists” can spin all they want. But the TRUTH is that the REALITY they are actively trying to deny WILL be found out eventually and REFORM of the nursing home industry WILL take place. The liars have nowhere to hide. Denial of reality is toxic and will come to an end.

Those who have read this blog many times over the past few years know that I’ve never portrayed all nursing home staff members as being abusive, neglectful or dishonest. Those, like the “Licensed Nursing Home Administrator” this post is responding to, would have you believe that this blog portrays everyone involved in the nursing home industry as being evil. Many are to be sure (just look at the NEWS HEADLINES in my Twitter feed!). While others are loving, caring and give 110% to the nursing home residents entrusted to them. Claiming that we have published otherwise is just another LIE designed to confuse you about our mission and content. Interestingly some of the most critical comments about nursing homes published here were NOT written by me, but rather were penned by actual nurses, nurses aides and administrators (and other staff) who have worked in the industry and know personally what shameful things take place in nursing homes.

Nursing Home News Watch

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