Amid pandemic, 6 questions to ask if your loved one is in a nursing home

Posted on 04/07/20 by Mark Hollis

If you have a spouse, sibling, parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, you may be worried about their safety and well-being because of the coronavirus pandemic. AARP has consulted with leading nursing home experts to provide you with some key questions to ask the nursing home:

1. Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?
· This includes residents as well as staff or other vendors who may have been in the nursing home.

2. What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?
· How are nursing home staff being screened for COVID-19, especially when they leave and re-enter the home?

· What precautions are in place for residents who are not in private rooms?

3. Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE)—like masks, face shields, gowns, gloves—that they need to stay safe, and keep their patients safe?
· Have nursing home staff been given specific training on how to use this personal protective equipment?

· If no, what is the plan to obtain personal protective equipment?

4. What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?
· Does the nursing home help residents call their loved ones by phone or video call?

· Will the nursing home set up a regular schedule for you to speak with your loved one?

Senior Patient Sitting On Wheelchair In Hospital

5. What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate important information to both residents and families on a regular basis?
· Will the nursing home be contacting you by phone or email, and when?

6. Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides, and other workers?
· What is the plan to make sure the needs of nursing home residents are met—like bathing, feeding, medication management, social engagement—if the nursing home has staffing shortages?

If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a spouse, parent, or other loved one who lives in a nursing home, consider these resources:

· The Texas Long Term Care Ombudsman
(on behalf of assisted living
and nursing home residents) can be reached by calling 1-800-252-2412 or learn more about that office at:

· Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office’s coronavirus page maintains the latest orders from the governor and provides tips and answers to common questions. State residents seeking information about what to do if they suspect they have COVID-19, testing, symptoms and prevention tips can call the statewide hotline at 2-1-1 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT daily.

· The Texas Department of State Health Services coronavirus page has daily statics on confirmed cases in the state, information on Gov. Abbott’s most recent executive orders, a list of drive-thru testing site locations and tips for preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The department is also running a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline that can be reached by dialing 2-1-1.

· The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has up-to-date information on symptoms and what to do if you suspect you have COVID-19.

· Additional resources from AARP are also available online at

This story is provided by AARP Texas. Visit the AARP Texas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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