Has anyone had experience with assisted living facility call buttons not working properly?

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My Mom's assisted living facility has already given us the run-around, saying that they gave my mother a sponge-bath (it didn't happen) because they said she didn't want a shower because she was already dressed. They also said that the reason that my mother had to wait for over an hour one day to have someone respond to the call button is because she calls too much. (The reasons they gave me were weak.) (And by the way, my mother is not allowed to try to navigate on her own. She needs help.) Now, last night, I arrived at the facility at 6:10. After half an hour we decided to begin her exercise routine (walking in the hall). When she stood up at her walker, I noticed that her wrist call button was blinking. She said that she had pushed it before I arrived because she needed someone to help her to the bathroom. I helped her to the bathroom and then we sat and waited for the aide to arrive. We thought it would be rude to leave when my mother had called for help, because the aide would expect her to be in her room and we didn't want her to have to track us down. At 7:20 the aide showed up and asked what my mother wanted. She claimed that she had just gotten the message on her "pager." She said sometimes it "spins" because the message takes a long time to go through, like on the computer when it takes awhile for something to load. She tried to show me that it showed my mother as being "inactive" on her pager, but of course, I couldn't see the display well, plus the clock was not set on her pager, so it didn't give correct times. I like this aide, so I wanted to believe her, but also didn't know if she was just trying to cover for herself. If, in fact, it can take one hour and ten minutes to respond to a call for help, that is very concerning to me, especially with what has already happened in the last two weeks.

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When my parents moved to AL, they experienced many problems with slow/no response to the call button. I complained politely but persistently to the administrative staff and the RN in charge of care staff. They finally decided that the wearable call buttons were malfunctioning and replaced them. We continued to have some trouble with slow response due to staffing issues, and I politely and persistently followed up with the administrator and RN. It became very apparent that management's ideation of the level of service they were able to provide was quite different from what could be achieved by the hands-on care staff.

It was frustrating because my mother was considered "level 4" on the care scale and was charged the highest rates, but the facility did not seem at all prepared to deal with the needs of a level 4 resident.

I would be very concerned about the comment that your mother had to wait over an hour because she calls too much. She is, no doubt, paying for a certain level of assistance and if she's calling for things they don't normally include in her level of care, they need to address that with you and with her. If they simply ignore her calls or let her wait because they view her as a nuisance, they are opening themselves up to a big lawsuit if she ever has a fall and they let her lay on the floor for an hour because she calls too much.. Please be sure to let the administrator know that this comment was made and that you are concerned about the call response time.
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Reply to funnymomof3
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Sunnydayclouds,
It's time to call the local Ombudsman Supervisor and file a formal complaint about these issues. Call lights should be answered within 10-20 minutes, and 20 minutes is pushing the limit. Not answering the call light because mom pushes the button too often is considered neglect. Encouraging a resident NOT to drink makes for a lazy CNA. Who's to say how long it should be between bathroom visits? Try and document these issues.
You can find the Ombudsman's contact information for your mom's assisted living facility posted where the residents and their families can find it ... at least that is the law. If not, it's another issue, but you can call the Area Agency on Aging in the area and ask for the Ombudsman. Good luck.
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Reply to Patts44ok
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My wife and I had similar instances. Repeatedly! I am a licensed attorney in Illinois but our experiences happened in Colorado. I expect to become licensed in Colorado pretty soon and will, if I live long enough, will file suit against the guilty parties.

These problems need fixing, but perhaps there are lawyers out there who would take action ASAP, as lives are at stake. I hope so and so should we all.
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Reply to PaulBern
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Sad to say, but welcome to Assisted Living/Nursing Home Care. This happens most places you go. When my uncle was alive, I switched homes so many times in hope the next one would be better, it wasn't. The care for the elderly is horrific. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone died because they fell out of their bed. I no longer believe this. I am convinced all the elderly people could not get assistance and fell trying to get to the bathroom themselves. My uncle gave up because he said they wouldn't help him and he couldn't do things.My uncle died because they made a medication error which made him fall 5 times in one week always in the bathroom. He stubbed his toe, went to the hospital for the fall, recovered and was ready to come home. However, the infection set in from stubbing his toe and he got MRSA and died. I am going to counseling because he screamed for hours before he died, he lost his ability to communicate. If you get no answers or improvement, file complaints with the dept of health. Although these places are good at doctoring up records and hard to prove what they are doing, they may catch them one of the times they go out. They couldn't prove aids didn't help my uncle, but they did find the medication error. I have tried to get a movement started to demand better care, but no one seems to want to bother. We will all be there some day and then we won't have a voice. I'm very frustrated we can't change things now.
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SKGCarepartner Aug 27, 2018
I am so sorry for your experience, and the experiences of all the responders. I wonder if we shouldn't start sending these descriptions of our loved ones' traumas to an organization like AARP or ACLU, to encourage them to lobby/sue our legislators into cleaning this problem up? And, of course, we ALL need to VOTE for whoever we believe will stand up for us on all levels of government. What do others think?
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I experienced similar problems at my parents AL facility. My mom was on the highest level of care and needed help with just about everything and we also hired private caregivers for 4 hours everyday to help engage my mom in activities. We had numerous instances where wait times were very long. This was frustrating knowing my mom was on the highest level of care and we were paying for care she was not receiving. I had the private caregivers document each instance of long response times and I went to the person above the facility director after several tries addressing with the director. He seemed concerned and we met up and he told me what all they were doing to address these issues. Bottom line was they were woefully understaffed most all the time, especially on weekends. One aide for 90 residents is ridiculous. They always had some excuse about someone not showing up for work etc. I had had enough and was in tears when I showed up one Sunday morning at 10:30 and my mom was soaking wet since they did not have time to get her out of bed and change her at the agreed upon 9:00 wake up time. That next day I found a new place to move my parents to and I let the VP know I expected him to release my parents of the 30 day notice requirement because they were not providing the care we had signed up for and were paying for. He could not argue this and let us out of the contract. My parents are now in a memory care facility that is properly staffed and no more long wait times. I can always find someone around to assist my mom when needed. What we pay now is about the same as what she was paying at the last place and the level of care is worlds above the old place. There are some great places out there that do provide high levels of care. My parents both have some cognitive impairment, but not where they would have to be in memory care. But my mom needed this move because they are so much better equipped to provide the care than the last place. So do search the area for other options and ask lots of questions of prospective places and hold them to the level of care you are paying for.
Good luck.
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Reply to Marysd
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I don’t know what to say. Hearing this breaks my heart. If your loved one can even be aware enough to use a call button and then have the call be ignored, is just beyond inhumane. No matter what the reason is, if a person needs help, a person needs help. My parents told me that nobody comes when they pull the cord, but they also tell me that so and so was upstairs today( there is no upstairs at their facility). After reading these posts, now I’m wondering if the statements about nobody coming to help are true. I’m sick to my stomach thinking I’ve sent my folks to an earlier death bed.
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sunnydayclouds Aug 29, 2018
Alzh101 I don’t know what you mean when you say you wonder if the statements about nobody coming to help are true. I sat there and waited with my mother for over one hour and ten minutes before anyone came. Today, a lovely woman who lives on my mother’s floor showed me all the bruises on her knee and leg from falling on the slippery floor in her bathroom. She didn’t call for help because she was able to get up on her own. She and I had already talked about how sometimes there are long wait times. (She initiated that discussion.) She is able to get around pretty well on her own, but uses a walker for stability. I wondered what would have happened if she had hurt herself more seriously when she fell and needed help right away and help didn’t come.
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Nursing homes are no better. My mom waited hours for someone to clean a bloody sore on her arm, apparently even though I asked 3 times the nurse told me it “went out if her head”. Mom waited up to 45 minutes for someone to take her to the bathroom, countless times. A woman in the rehab. room next to her waited 20 minutes for someone to take her to the dinning room, I finally took her. Her call button didnt work one day and if I didnt check on her she wouldn't have gotten dinner. I waited 10 days after we requested a hospice evaluation only to find out the RN on call the day we asked neglected to inform the Social Worker. My heart goes out to countless patients in NH that dont have anyone to advocate for them and help them get the help they needed and deserve.

One day an aide was sent home because they didnt need her, heaven forbid there be an extra person to help out. Something needs to change the way we treat our elderly, we might start not having so many homes that are for profit. The three months my Mom was in a nursing home was an eye opener.
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You pay them all that money expecting and deserving of better care. When you have to GO, you have to GO.  I wonder if response times are any faster when they are aware family/visitors are present.  I doubt it.  I was visiting someone at a highly rated (HA!) nursing facility and was appalled at how long it took for them to come.  They cannot know why the person is calling unless there is an intercom system.  Therefore, the person could be having a life-threatening emergency that is being ignored, and the response by inaction is basically, so what, who cares, you're old and going to die anyhow.  I can't help but wonder about documenting some of these episodes, and then reporting it to adult protective services!
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a friend of mine works at the front desk at a very fancy AL facility, and sadly, all day long, residents ask for her help to take them to the bathroom. Unfortunately she is not allowed to take them because she’s not a Personal Care Aide- so she tells them “I’ll call the nurses aide for you “ ..... but the aides don’t always come. the aides would rather have them “go” in their diaper and change the diaper, than actually assist them going to the bathroom because it’s easier!
she said “it’s so sad” but there aren’t enough staff to toilet all the residents, and they’d rather change diapers on “their” schedule.
😢
this HAS to change!
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rovana Aug 29, 2018
To improve things?  IMMIGRATION.
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Some AL places give excellent care. Sadly my Mom lived in a lovely place that was an insult to the dignified seniors paying good money to live there. People waited hours, yes hours to be helped to the bathroom. They were left alone on toilets just as long. Baths charged to residents didn’t happen. Scheduled checks in the middle of the night didn’t happen. During the night, sometimes there was only one person to respond to the call buttons of over a hundred residents and sometimes they couldn’t leave the desk. All of the above was before they were sold to a corporation and things really went downhill.
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rovana Aug 29, 2018
If we cut off immigration, it is going to get worse...For many Americans these jobs are not good enough, but for many immigrants they are definitely a step up.
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