Isn’t that all we want for our loved ones? Pretty simple isn’t it?

I just read an interesting book which is a must for family members who want to understand how to optimize the care received by their loved ones who live in a nursing home. The book, An Insider’s Guide to Better Nursing Home Care, is written by Donna M. Reed, a nurse with considerable experience working in nursing homes.

The most important points raised by this informative book include:

1. Determine whether the staffing is appropriate. One of the underlying themes of the book is that nursing homes are, in general, understaffed. Other than asking what the nurse-to-resident ratio is, Ms. Reed suggest ways to confirm the staffing, such as, by counting how many beds are in your parent’s unit, and casually asking “How many nurses are on duty tonight?”

2. You can and should be involved in your parent’s care plan. Ms. Reed states that residents can be awakened as early as 4am. Communicating your parent’s needs and preferences, in a respectful manner, and visiting often (and building a positive relationship with staff) will go a long way in getting the care you desire for your parent.

3. Know that your parent does not have to switch to the facility physician. Even though it is easier for the all residents to be seen by the facility physician, it is your parent’s choice. You would need to ensure the current physician agree to treat patients who are in a nursing home. Also important to confirm on-call coverage is 7 days/week.

4. Get a copy of your parent’s current medical chart once a year and after every hospital transfer and /or significant medical event…you will be amazed at what is often written into the chart.

5. Know and contact for your state’s Ombudsman. Ombudsmen are administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and are advocates for residents, looking after residents’ safety and well-being. The Ombudsman for
Alleghany County, Botetourt County, Craig County, Roanoke County, Covington, Roanoke City, and Salem can be contacted here.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at