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Warning Signs of a Bad Nursing Home

If your parents or elderly relatives and friends need care in a nursing home, it’s wise to visit and research all the available options. While there are excellent nursing homes, there are also, unfortunately, poor ones, where an elderly resident’s health or safety could be impaired. The reasons for poor care range from lack of trained personnel to attempts at cost-cutting on the part of the facility.

The Los Angeles elder abuse attorneys at the Salamati Law Firm present 4 warnings signs that a nursing home or assisted care facility may not be the best choice for you or your loved one:

Violations for health or safety reasons

The first place to start is to research any violations. The Medicare website,, has a searchable zip code database that will return any citations for health or safety violations. It is also a good idea to search by the name of the nursing home for any news stories, as well as checking into any state-specific databases. The good news is that nursing homes are highly regulated and inspected periodically. Health and safety violations have to be reported and corrected.

If you do find a violation, assess its severity and the likelihood of its affecting your loved one. Some violations may be for too many boxes stacked in a basement. Others might concern a patient with dementia being allowed to walk outside unattended. The latter is extremely serious, and could be cause for crossing the facility off your list.

Poor cleanliness and maintenance

Then, make an appointment to tour the facilities you have in mind. Is the nursing home clean? Are there odors or signs that it may not be? It is well-maintained? Are both general areas and rooms in a state of good repair? Lack of cleanliness and good maintenance are dangerous to elderly residents. Impaired cleanliness can cause health issues and be uncomfortable. Poor maintenance can make areas dangerous to walk or pass through. Be sure to tour both the interior and exterior.

If the tour takes you only to certain areas or floors, ask if you can see the areas not covered. In a bad nursing home, the first-floor common areas may be showpieces. Other floors may be in a less well maintained state.

High staff turnover

High staff turnover can be a sign that a nursing home is not well run. It may not recruit dedicated people, or pay them enough to stay. Inexperienced or constantly changing staff can negatively affect a nursing home resident’s care. Ask facility management how long their attendants and other staff stay onboard.

Negative interactions between staff and patients

As you tour the facility, be sure to observe the interactions between staff and residents. Staff should be friendly, respectful, and attentive. If you see interactions that criticize or demean the residents, cross the facility off your list. If residents seem afraid or child-like, it indicates that staff might be threatening or talk down to them. All are bad signs.

Experienced elder abuse attorneys in southern California

Elder abuse in nursing homes is a distressing problem. The Salamati Law Firm has an outstanding record of fighting for justice on the part of elder abuse victims and their families in the Los Angeles area.

If you need advice on an elder abuse case or a nursing home situation, please call us today. We will provide a complimentary consultation. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional “signs of a bad nursing home” resources:

  1. Blanchard, Sarah. “6 Signs of Nursing Home Neglect.” NextAvenue. February 18, 2016.
  2. Nursing Home Compare.
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