Last week, I wrote a post about the factors you need to consider when deciding among a variety of nursing home options for someone close to you. In this post, I want to further address the important role that you play in your loved one’s ongoing nursing home stay, drawing again from the insights offered by Joanna R. Leefer, author of “Almost Like Home,” and featured in the New York Times.

Once the patient is admitted to a nursing home, monitoring his or her care and treatment is imperative. Here is a list of things you can do:

  1. You or another trustworthy individual should be “authorized to serve as the patient’s health care proxy, so critical medical decisions can be made when he cannot speak for himself.”
  2. Make sure you have proper access to your loved one’s medical records.
  3. To the best of your ability, be present when your loved one is examined.
  4. Check for any hints of physical abuse and signs of incipient or existing bed sores.
  5. Learn the names of the staff in charge of various services, get to know them, and speak to them frequently about your loved one’s special needs and problems.
  6. Finally, be your loved one’s advocate!

If you do encounter problems in the care that’s offered, make sure to keep detailed notes, including dates, times, names, concerns raised, and responses to those concerns. Try to solve any issues with the nursing home staff before going to the facility’s management; if necessary, speak to the heads of departments, and lodge a formal complaint with the nursing home. If those measures don’t yield results, consider filing an administrative action with the State and consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney whose practice is devoted to nursing home negligence and abuse.