By Attorney David Engler
One of the most important jobs of a guardian is to keep track of the times you visited your ward at a nursing or group home. Just last night I was visiting my own mother at a rehabilitation facility. Now while she seems to be completely competent at age 82, I can see the difference in treatment because the staff knows I am a lawyer and involved in the guardianship business. Most importantly I am keeping track of what I am seeing and letting them know that I am. My mom has complained about not getting her medications at the right times and about rude treatment by an aide. Her roommate confirmed the complaints.
It is remarkable how some staff that work at nursing homes do not seem to like their jobs and treat all patients like unruly children.
Well, they should be listing the complaints they receive directly from the patients on their charts. They do not! It is information that might show a pattern of neglect and therefore better not to list. But the fear of litigation is a powerful deterrent and if you demand that your complaints on behalf of your ward be documented and that you are recording the same, your client will get better care.
My Mom hit the nurse’s button and was not supposed to use the rest room without assistance. The response took more than 20 minutes. Now she is on a diuretic and it is hard to wait. The aide finally showed up and said, well just do it in your bed. You have to be kidding! She wasn’t! Believe me, these understaffed and under trained statements are coming out every day to our wards who find themselves relying on the care of others. Let the facility know up front that you will document the issue in your own case notes.
Our software (www.eguardianship.com) allows the guardian to keep track of case notes and these notes are searchable. Contemporaneous notes are admissible as business records if litigation is needed in the future. We have to put the pressure on the residential care-givers to keep them honest and accountable.
Vary the times you come to visit so your schedule is not predictable. If they know you show only at 4 P.M. then maybe they will not bathe your ward until that time. Do not be shy about letting the residential care facility know that your job is as an advocate on behalf of your ward. Let them know that you keep electronic records even if they do not.