Not being able to see a loved one regularly when they are in a care facility can be stressful and worrisome. Knowing that many people are falling ill or dying from coronavirus and its complications only adds to this distress and worry about people you care about.

As of May 3, 2020, 15 states have passed laws in an effort to protect nursing homes from being held accountable during the pandemic. New York is one of those states. ABC7NY news reported 20,000 deaths nationwide in nursing homes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The health and care decisions have become literally life and death for workers in these facilities, so the laws were enacted to make medical decisions easier for the workers. But what about the loved ones? How will you know if your loved one is receiving the care and attention they need during this time, especially when you can not see the resident in person? How will you know how they are doing? Even if you can’t see your loved one in a nursing home face-to-face, you can still stay involved in their care.

Staying involved from a distance

Here are some suggestions on how to stay involved, even in the most difficult circumstances.

  1. Be proactive – Don’t wait for the nurse or staff at the facility to reach out to you. Pick up the phone and call the front desk. They will be able to direct you to the best contacts to get your questions answered, including nurses, aides, dietitians, and administration. They should also be able to provide emails for these contacts so you can send a message, which also gives you answers in writing for ease of future reference.
  2. Be consistent – Set up regular chat meetings with your loved one such as weekly or monthly. Perhaps before the pandemic, you visited your loved one every Friday or every other Wednesday. Try to set up a similar schedule so you will have regular check-ins to see how mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or other family members are doing.
  3. Be a video-conferencing expert – Use technology to see your family member online if you are unable to be there in person. Many video conferencing technologies have become household names during 2020 such as Zoom, Facetime (for iPhone users), Google Duo (app for non-iPhone users), Google Chats and Skype.
  4. Be prepared with questions – Video visits with a loved one may be shorter than in person visits, so having a list of questions to ask your loved one and the staff at the facility can help you feel prepared and empowered. Here are some questions to ask:
    1. Are they eating meals?
    2. Are they getting enough liquids to stay hydrated?
    3. Are they talkative?
    4. Are they responsive?
    5. Are they up and out of bed for the day?
    6. Has anyone checked their feet lately?
    7. What are their vitals (blood pressure, temperature, oxygenation)?

Accountability should never be optional

If you’re think a loved one is being neglected or injured in a nursing home, there is help. Speak with an attorney well versed in representation of nursing home injury cases. Nursing homes should still be held accountable, even in the worst of times.