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Communicating with Loved Ones in Nursing Homes During COVID-19

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has put a stop to the regular structure of our lives. We no longer are able to move about freely and often find ourselves having not spoken to another person for hours at a time. This isolation that has been imposed upon us is what our elderly loved ones feel on a daily basis living in their homes as they age. One way we have all tried to combat this symptom of aging is to place our elderly loved ones into a nursing home. Often times this is out of necessity due to medical concerns, but it also allows for them to have human interaction on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, with COVID-19 spreading throughout our world, we have had to place great restrictions on nursing home visitations. Therefore, while so many of us would go visit our loved ones at their nursing homes on a daily or weekly basis to ensure their treatment and medical concerns were being met, we now are literally locked out of their care. In addition, the nursing homes are experiencing a shortage of workers due to illness and fatigue leaving us to wonder if our loved ones are being properly cared for. Understaffing is a growing problem in the United States and has been for a long time. With the new novel Coronavirus, the rate of understaffing is at an all-time high.

While we understand the need for the lockdown in the facilities to try to ensure the virus does not enter these facilities where many patients have compromised immune systems, the distance is hard for all involved. There are some things that you can still do to see your elderly loved one and ensure their proper care is continuing.

  1. Make sure you talk on the phone with your loved one every day and at different times of the day through apps like FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype. Ask them questions about the food, the hygiene practices of staff and any hygiene practices that are being performed for them.
  2. Go to the facility and hold up a homemade sign so the staff can bring them to the glass door or window so they can read it and know you are there for them.
  3. Some facilities are created isolation areas for family members to visit and assist their loved ones with their meals or simply to see them and talk in person.
  4. Keeping an open dialogue with the facility is key to our elderly loved one’s treatment during this time as well as an understanding of the strains that are occurring on our healthcare system.

Should you have any concerns of the care your loved one is getting you can contact:

  1. Your state and local legislators to express the need for added protections and oversight of the facilities.
  2. The Department of Public Health to file a complaint regarding the care of your loved one.
  3. The local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney’s office. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. Riverside County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at (800) 950-2444. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at (619) 531-4040. The Riverside County District Attorney may be reached at (951) 955-5400.
  4. A Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provide a 24/7 State Crisis Complaint Hotline at (800) 231-4024. Call the Community Connect Riversideoffice at (951) 686-4402.
  5. The Adult Protective Services (APS), in San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660 or Riverside County at (800) 491-7123.

You may also want to seek the advice of an experienced San Diego elder abuse attorney who can inform you and your loved one of your rights. Christopher C. Walton, an experienced and award-winning elder abuse attorney in Southern California. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to abuse or neglect while residing in a Southern California nursing home, contact our firm at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.

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