The last several months have been difficult for many who have loved ones in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Elderly adults living in these facilities, many of whom have chronic underlying medical conditions, have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Many families are living with the anxiety of not knowing if their loved ones are safe, and are unable to visit and check for themselves. However, there are some suggested steps you can take to protect your loved one as much as possible.
Current guidelines about visiting nursing homes
Recommendations from the federal government encourage all nursing homes to stop all visitations in order to reduce the potential for virus exposure to vulnerable residents. However, this approach is only successful if the nursing home does its job properly. Since March of this year, there have been 2,500 reported cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities in Tennessee. Of these, 259 people have died, which amounts to approximately 10% of all cases in these facilities.
When a nursing home, residential home, or assisted care living facility has at least two confirmed cases of the coronavirus among its residents and/or staff members, the Tennessee Department of Health requires it to report a “cluster.”
As of mid-July, 67 out of the 95 counties in Tennessee exceeded the case rate for permitting visitors into these facilities. This comprises much of East Tennessee, including the following counties: Sevier, Loudon, Knox, Jefferson, Hamblen, Cocke, Claiborne, Blount, and Anderson. The limiting case rate is 10 new cases per 100,000 people.
Communicate and ask the right questions
So, what can you do to protect your loved one inside of a nursing home or other related facility from neglect or abuse? First of all, it is important to communicate and ask questions – the right questions. This can help you determine the safety level of your loved one in the facility. The types of questions you might consider include:
- How many, if any, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the facility?
- What procedures are in place to protect my loved one and other residents? Compare what the facility is doing against CDC recommendations for nursing homes.
- Are staff members tested regularly, particularly when they exhibit symptoms?
- What is the facility’s sick leave policy for its staff members? The facility should allow employees to stay home if they are sick without any fear of losing their job or incurring punishment.
- Are residents of the facility permitted to receive mail and packages?
- Does the facility lack any important items necessary to keep my loved ones safe?
At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, we are keenly aware of the shortcomings in many nursing homes and senior care facilities. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the situation is even more difficult for residents and their family members.
If your loved one suffered abuse or neglect at a Tennessee nursing home, we are here to help. To arrange a free consultation with a Sevierville nursing home neglect and abuse attorney from our team, call us today at 865.428.8780 or complete our contact form. We offer our services to clients in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Seymour, Gatlinburg, and the surrounding areas in Tennessee.