There are currently nine nursing homes located in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, Florida. Family members faced with finding an opening in one of these area nursing homes for a loved one who has recently undergone surgery and needs rehabilitation often make the decision by default: they are rushed into deciding by a pushy hospital employee who is looking to free up a hospital bed. Normally, under pressure, they say ‘yes’ to whichever nursing home they are first advised has an available bed. The selection is made without any further investigation, and in effect, without any real choice. As a nursing home abuse lawyer, unfortunately, I am often asked for advice after it is too late; the harm has already occurred.
The best approach involves doing some detective work prior to the time of discharge from the hospital, or better yet, even before surgery is performed. Help does exist. FloridaHealthFinder.gov provides a searchable database of all nursing homes within the state, ranks them based on the quality of care they provide, and even provides inspection reports for public viewing – all online.
Much can be learned by researching a nursing home online. For instance, as of February, 2015, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration has ranked Consulate Health Care of Port Charlotte and Signature Healthcare of Port Charlotte in the bottom 20% of facilities in this region. Both facilities received only 1 out of 5 possible stars for their overall inspection and quality of care. The highest ranked private nursing home during this time period was Charlotte Harbor Healthcare with 4 out of 5 stars in each of those categories.
Online data is only one useful tool in the nursing home selection process. Do not be afraid to visit a nursing home you are considering several times and during different shifts. Use all of your senses. How does the nursing home smell? Does it appear clean? Do the residents seem happy? Are there residents who are crying out and appear unattended? If possible, speak with family members visiting the facility and ask them about their overall impression of the nursing home.
Taking these basic steps can help to ensure that you find the best nursing home. Predictably, bad results arise in understaffed nursing homes: bed sores, infections, falls, malnutrition, dehydration, and other serious, if not fatal, complications. Once your family member is admitted, visit and visit often. Encourage friends, extended family and others to visit too. Not only will the frequent, unannounced visits bring some cheer to the person admitted to the nursing home, it will serve to place the nursing home on notice of the fact that there are watchful eyes around to ensure that the patient receives good care.