Jennifer Meagher RN is the owner of Senior Life LLC, Advocates and  Consultants. Meagher founded and oversees the Better Business Partners  Serving Seniors. She is on the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Committee and has specialized in geriatrics since 1998. She is called on by doctors, attorneys,  and financial advisors to care for their clients and their families. Contact Jennifer  at www.SeniorLifeGCM.com.




Dear Jennifer,

My Auntie raised me. She’s like my Momma. She went to the hospital and they stuck her in a nursing home. The people there are nice enough but it don’t’ seem like nobody knows which way is up.  One of them tells me one thing and the other says something else. Then they start in like this: “What must have happened is…” and it’s like they make a story up. It’s like nobody really knows what happened when she fell, and what happened to her eyeglasses that’s gone missing, and what to do about the lady that wanders into her room in the middle of the night. What’s with that? My Auntie has so many troubles it about breaks my heart. I’m worried if they don’t know these things, then they won’t know if something real real serious.  Even the doctor is upset. He told me I should take my Auntie someplace else. How do I do that? I’m worried if they find out I’m looking around, they’ll take it out on her. What can I do? I tried calling the police, but they said I should call the social worker. My neighbor said I should write you. I’m praying you know what to do.

Bless You,

Dear Wanda,

Here are the questions I ask myself in a situation like yours:

1. Does this seem to be a problem among most of the staff, or just one or two?

2. Is this something I think they are likely to fix?

3. Is all trust lost, or could we work towards a resolution?

4. If your Auntie is clear minded, is she concerned too?
It is important for you to trust that your Auntie is getting the oversight and care she deserves. Careless reporting is often at the center of disgruntled families. It could be that everything has been done correctly for your Auntie at the time of each situation, but that the staff isn’t careful about communication.  Either way, if the right hand doesn’t know what the right is doing and if the staff isn’t inclined to obtain the correct information before speaking; then we have a recipe for things to go very wrong.

From your report, I share your concern.  First, write out a calendar of past events and staff responses. Call a Care Plan Meeting.

A Care Plan Meeting is a recommended first step. This shows you as loving family who respects the staff enough to work on a resolution. This also documents your concerns and staff responses (keep your own notes.) this builds a clear ground work to demonstrate whether the situation resolves or not. It opens a clear path for you if you wish to change her location. You might consider:

1. Transfer to another unit in the same nursing home.

2. Transfer to another nursing home altogether.

See today’s article for more. You are a wonderful advocate for your Auntie.




First we must understand that no nursing home can provide intensive one on one care to your loved one. No nursing home is able to provide the same care you would – they aren’t family. They don’t know your loved one like you do. It is reasonable to expect nursing homes to get to know your loved one, recognize all areas of need and have a plan to address each one. Wait times on call bells should vary from under 5 minutes to up to 20 minutes, with the majority at 10-15 minutes. If all call bell responses are 20 minutes or longer you have reason for concern.

Second, we have an obligation to make the team aware of our complaints so they can respond to them and improve. If there is a list of care problems I recommend a:
 CARE PLAN MEETING as discussed in today’s letter from Wanda.  

If you are fully disgruntled with most aspects of care, it is time for a change. Here’s how that works. We’ll start by discussing a:

TRANSFER TO ANOTHER NURSING HOME. Nursing homes accept new residents based on finances, need, and availability of beds. If your loved one is on Medicaid or is about to go on Medicaid and is already in a nursing home, the finances aren’t good and the strong need isn’t there as others will perceive that your loved one is already in a home getting care. Caution: do not get angry when talking to other nursing homes.  Avoid berating the home you wish to leave. Either of the previous presentations will show you as angry family who complain. Stay composed. Concentrate on saying the current home is not a match for your family. If your loved one is not a candidate for a nursing home transfer, then consider:

TRANSFER TO ANOTHER NURSING UNIT WITHIN THE SAME NURSING HOME. If you are unhappy, the staff is unhappy. There should be no backlash if you request this transfer to the Social Worker. The worry or reciprocation worries many families. If you see worrisome signs, ask to speak with the nursing home’s Ombudsman who is an advocate for you and your loved one. If you see serious substandard care, you have the right to contact the Department of Health Nursing Home Hot Line. Visit  http://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/nursing/complaints.htm for instructions.



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Brain Workout Trivia

In the 1953 movie "From Here To Eternity," which actress played the steamy love scene on a beach with Burt Lancaster?
A. Joan Crawford
B. Natalie Wood
C. Deborah Kerr
D. Bette Davis

Brain Workout Trivia is the brainchild of John C Sproul
For more trivia visit www.funtrivia.com

The correct answer is C. When this movie was released in 1953, this scene was considered very risque. The movie was set in Hawaii just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Frank Sinatra won an Academy Award (for Best Supporting Actor) for his portrayal of Private Angelo Maggio in this movie. The Frank Sinatra casting is the basis for the scene in the movie "The Godfather" (where singer Johnny Fontane wants the Godfather's help in getting a movie role).