GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more and more of us will be going through the often-times heartwrenching process of putting a loved one in a nursing home.
The number of people over 65 in this country is expected to grow from just over 40 million in 2010 to more than 88 million in 2050.
And many who go through the process make some assumptions.
"They assume that when they place someone in a home that's regulated by state and federal authorities that they're going to get a certain standard of care, " said Patricia Slomski.
It happened to her last fall after Slomski's mother, 80 year-old Doris Robbins , was placed in Laurels of Sandy Creek in Wayland.
But state investigators found evidence Robbins doctor wasn't notified when her medical condition deteriorated, paramedics weren't called when she was found unresponsive, and police weren't called following her death on May 6.
Assumption of safety turned to anger.
"We have a right to believe that and expect that," she said.
Jerry Stevens, an ombudsman with the Detroit-based advocacy group Adult Well Being Services , said reports, like the one involved at the Wayland home are the exception, not the rule.
"There are very caring, very well run facilities and it's a matter of doing homework," he said.
Stevens volunteered to help 24 Hour News 8 with homework. He began showing how to access information on the Medicare website .
It's broken down by city, zip code, the name of the home and a star rating.
"In each of the star ratings, there's a subset that you can go into so that you could see what issues were looked at," Stevens said. "It will give you all of the detailed information regarding fire safety inspections, quality measures, nursing home staffing."
And, he said "it also has a listing of complaints and incidents, so that you can actually break down into that subset."
Stevens also suggests getting out from behind the keyboard and making surprise visits to nursing homes.
Observe things on your own, he said, and ask yourself if residents seem happy, if the staff is attentive -- especially Certified Nursing Aids.
CNAs have the most contact with patients.
Stevens said to ask the home what their turnover rate, especially among CNAs, is like.
"Gut reactions tend to be pretty accurate."
Stevens said many homes also have resident or family councils. They are are actual residents or their families that can give you the inside scoop on what a facility is like.
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