SHREVEPORT, La. --- No one should be surprised that foods in hospitals, and nursing homes, do not rival the finest restaurants in the world. Their function is to deliver nutrition to their patients, three to four times per day. In my experience in the nursing home I just escaped, the food they served was dangerous for me. At least three times, they served me corn dogs, macaroni and cheese, and corn on the cob... To a diabetic! Hardly nutritious.
They will tell you, themselves, that they are required by law to present trays to you at mealtimes, whether, or not, you plan to eat it. Nursing Assistants are required to chart the intake of food and liquids of every patient. Some do not--- at least not accurately. So how do you monitor, and keep aware of what, and how, your loved one is eating while in care?
We all have busy lives, but our loved ones need us even more importantly, when it comes to nutrition. The meal I described above was hardly high in nutritional value, and only represented fattening, filling, foods. Some institutions are alleged to make sure to feed high-fat, high-carbohydrate meals, in order to keep patient weights high on state reports. Dropping patient weights in geriatric care, not due to a medical condition, are highly undesirable in facilities’ reporting to the state.
Make it a point to visit the facility frequently to see for yourself what the meals are. Ask to speak to the dietitian, to ask questions, or notify them of your loved one’s preferences. The facility is responsible for cranking out meals for dozens, to hundreds, of other residents. It can’t hurt to ask. Maybe they’d make an effort to do some nice things for your family member, or friend. Ask your loved one about their meals. Do they like them? What is wrong with them?
Ask to be shown the mealtime intake, and output, charts which should be being kept for each patient in their care. If your patient is not eating enough, who on the staff is responsible for feeding them. Typically, it is the nursing assistant’s function to assist “feeders”, or people who require assistance in eating. Some residents are fortunate enough to be able to have alternative meals brought to them from the outside. Many are not. If not medically restricted, maybe making some condiments available in their room can make the food more palatable for them to eat. If your loved one won’t eat for anyone but you, or someone they know, it is vital to create a schedule where loved ones can fulfill that role.
If you are not satisfied with the level of dietary care, and service provision, take time to bring it to the attention of the facilities administrators, or department heads. It is fair to give them every opportunity to try to do something to make your loved one’s experience better.
If you receive no satisfaction, after having spoken to the appropriate people in the facility, every patient-room hallway, and public areas, should have a poster displayed prominently on the wall. It will display the telephone number of the state Long-Term Care Ombudsman (patient advocate) which will then put you in touch with the specific Ombudsman assigned to that specific facility. That number is there to help the patients and residents. Ombudsmen are individuals who are trained to respond to the problems and needs of residents of nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities.
Ombudsmen respond to any problem, complaint or concern a resident may have. Common problems are with the quality of care, food, finances, activities, visitation, and the ability to exercise their rights as a resident or citizen. Anyone who has questions or concerns about the care or treatment a resident is receiving should contact an ombudsman.
Many administrators dread the involvement of the state advocate, and are inclined to pay attention once they know that you KNOW whom to call! Don’t, however, cry “wolf”, or abuse that resource. If things are bad, there is help available to you.
If you already are having legitimate trouble with an institution or facility, have attempted to clear it up--- through proper channels--- with no results, the telephone number for the Louisiana nursing home/health care Ombudsman is (866) 632-0922. See the Ombudsman frequently asked questions page, online, at bitly.com/OmbudsmanLA
About the writer:
Marcinho Savant, a Shreveport/Bossier resident, is a former health care worker in both private-duty, and institutional care environments. He is an author, executive, entertainment expert, and nursing home survivor.
Words: 777 with Boilerplate
Marcinho Savant, a Shreve