Roommate issues for my mom. Any ideas on what to do?


Mom has been in a nursing home for 10 months. She had a great roommate, who has been in the hospital and now on the Medicare wing. They brought a lady in who has Alzheimers and is very hard to manage. Mom can't use her own bathroom, this lady has some kind of infection. She gets up and down all night long, goes in the hall, turns lights on, tries to get in mom's bed. Mom is exhausted, weak and has made herself sick over this. I have seen it first hand, so I know it's accurate.

I just called the unit supervisor and let her have it. Mom has complained to her and she told mom she couldn't do anything. The other staff members feel horrible for mom and told her to refuse this person when they found out she would be mom's roommmate. I said I needed a change made by tomorrow morning or I would make drastic changes to mom's care (pull her out or move her to a different unit).

Mom hates being there, the care has been great til now. This just adds fuel to her fire to want to come home. She pays over $5000 a month and is miserable because she thinks she can take care of herself at home and now with this roommate issue, it's worse.

Is there anything else I can do? I feel like an only child, because my siblings do nothing to help. I think they are trying to get this lady into the alzheimers unit and must not have a bed for her. They have a dementia semi lock down unit, she needs to go there.

Ideas on what else to do? They promised me when I put mom there, they matched roommates carefully, obviously not.

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YEAH!! Way to go girl!
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Congratulations. I do not live in IL., any longer. But, Mother is in a NH in Central IL.
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Good for you for getting this solved! I'm sure your mom appreciates all your effort and no doubt you will sleep better now too. It is hard to advocate sometimes especially if you aren't used to dealing with that. Bravo...and hugs :)
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Sorry, it took so long to respond. Thank you all, I read the messages, was armed with info and went to the home. There is a new unit supervisor, mom had asked her to move this woman out of her room several times and she said she didn't know if she could. I live in the same town, so I went there and told her to get it changed within the hour or I would pull mom out of there and tell administration and the board. It's a big nursing home with an Alzheimer's unit and a dementia unit. She said she had to talk to admissions, I said "call now, I will sit right here and wait. Do you want me to go to administration and get this taken care of?"

That was the squeaky wheel, she got moved out within 15 minutes. Why should mom lose her room and the staff she has gotten to know? They have always balked when mom had to use the commode because of a roommate issue. I always pushed and got some answers. I know about privacy laws, I am a medical auditor. But, mom has a right to know. She is starting to show signs of dementia, asking the same question repeatedly, not knowing people from the past.

I live in Illinois and a semi private room is $167.70 per day. We have a house and room for a caregiver, but she needs 24 hour care, she can't get up and down alone and has urinary issues, frequent trips to the bathroom, including during the night. I have never found anyone that would do even 12 hour shifts.
I do pop in the nursing home at all hours and so does my brother, when he is here. I have friends that go see her and people from church.

The administrator is a family friend, we have been friends for years. I saw him there yesterday and pulled him off to the side. I told him I don't go to him with complaints, I try to let them do their jobs, but from now on, I go straight to him. He had no idea what had gone on. Evidently, they were holding this woman until an alzheimers bed was open. Her new roommate appears to have something similar, but she stays in bed. She laughs and talks to herself, but is not as disruptive. I reminded them when I placed her there, they told me they match roommates based on mental capacity, similar likes, etc... They failed on this one.

This is probably happening all over, but we have so many new assisted living facilities here and more being built, there are open beds in all the homes. The one she is in has always been full, tried to get my dad in there 9 years ago and there was no room.

I am going to get an order that mom can't use a commode (when her roommate has an infection), she has trouble using them anyway. I was worn out when she was home and I tried to take care of her. She is very hard to deal with and has lost most of her eye sight. I hate it that she is there, but I have comprised my health trying to care for her.
Thanks again, this is the best place to get answers!
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Noone is writing about the fallout that could come to your mom during the time you are trying to solve this problem. You will have to, as before mentioned, drop in unexpected to be sure they don't mistreat your mom because you are causing trouble for them. I don't mean not to respond but just to keep a lookout for them treating your mom with less kindness and compassion. Hope things work out.
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Very good posts on this issue. The NH needs an Alzheimers unit, for gosh sakes, if they are going to accept those types of patients. If you get no results, I would tell the director "I am leaving now and going to the State's Attorney's office." I would insinuate that charges would be brought against this "roommate" and say that you will be getting an order of protection to keep this lady away from your mom.

There has been twice, that Mother has caught the same woman, going through her dresser. She woke up and saw her. THe NH moved quickly to manage the problem. Good luck and keep us informed.

By the way, around the clock care (at home) here in Tucson is $11,000 per month.
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Nanc512 - As Medeaa wrote - be the squeaky wheel. In your post you don't say how close you live to your mother's nursing home. I've found I'm more effective talking to nursing home staff and my MIL's doctor (about medication issues) face to face rather than on the phone. But not an easy option if you are hours away.
Ferris1 - Are you writing about a 24/7 caregiver working for $5000 per month? That is under $7 per hour. We looked at this for my MIL and it would have been $20 per hour through an agency. We didn't want to tackle the issues of hiring privately. What do you do when the hired care giver is ill or needs to be gone? What about workman's comp if there is an on the job injury to the caregiver? How do you handle the taxes that need to come out of the caregiver's paycheck?
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Look up "Nursing Home Resident's Rights" for your state and see what rights your Mother has in the care facility. Many private run nursing facilities do not provide for patient's compatibility with their roommates. If this is one of them, consider moving your Mother to a better nursing home facility immediately!

Also, if this is a Medicare/Medicaid Approved Nursing Facility, there are many rights for the patients and this NF is not following them. Demand a conference with the "governing body". (I obtained the following from atlantalegalaid - though it's Atlanta based, it lists the Federal Guidelines for all M/M NF):
Under federal law, all Medicare and Medicaid approved nursing homes must have a governing body. The governing body establishes policies for the management and operation of the home and appoints an administrator to run the facility. The owner often serves on the nursing home's governing body.
One of the policies a governing body must establish is a grievance procedure. The nursing home should have written policies explaining how to file a complaint with the facility. This policy should tell you how to contact the governing body if you are not satisfied with the response from the homes' staff.
Federal and state laws give you the right to complain to the nursing home or to outside sources without discrimination or retaliation. If you do complain, the nursing home must make " prompt efforts" to resolve your concern.
When you experience a problem in a nursing home, it is good practice to work up the chain of command to seek attention to your concern. For example, if you are concerned about a nursing problem, start by contacting the charge nurse on duty. If that contact is not effective, consider contacting the Director of Nursing, and next, the administrator of the home.
If the administrator and other staff members do not address your concerns in a satisfactory manner, you can go beyond the nursing home's staff to get help. A number of options exist including:
filing a formal complaint with the Healthcare Facilities Regulation Division;
seeking legal assistance; or
contacting the ombudsman for help.
If you cannot resolve your concern at this level, another option is to contact the owner or governing body of the nursing home. It is best to put your complaint in writing and ask for a written response. By putting your complaint in writing, you can later show others that you gave the home an opportunity to address your concerns.
Owners who care about their business will take your concerns seriously. While the owner may not directly resolve your problem, he or she has the authority to make changes at the home. Just contacting the owner may convince the nursing home staff to take your concerns more seriously.
On the other hand, your concerns may be caused by the owner's or governing body's operating policies. For example, if the owner does not supply enough funds to hire competent staff members or buy needed supplies, the problems you will see may be directly caused by the owner's policies. If this is the case, your contact with the owner may not solve the problem but may be useful in other ways.
For example, if you find it necessary to take legal action, the owner's failure to respond to your concerns may strengthen your case. Copies of your letters and other information may also help state or federal inspectors document problems and enable enforcement actions to be taken.

If this is a M/M NF, threaten to report them to Medicare/Medicaid and watch them scramble when you show them you know the address to report them to:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard, Mail Stop S2-12-25
Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850

This website provides the EXACT LOCATION to report Abuse/Neglect to by state and is much better than the above address as it is a direct line to local enforcement:

If you Mother is not sleeping because of this woman, she is being deprived of the level of care she is paying for, so ask for compensation due to loss of care provided. So, if she's paying $5,000/month, demand they repay 1/3 of it, approximately $1,700 for the 8 hrs/night/month times the number of months she has not able to sleep. So, let's say, she's not been able to sleep for the past three months, then they owe her one free month of care (and be sure they know that means AFTER they move your Mother into another room where she is being provided ALL the care she's paying for!)

Demand to know what "infection" your Mother's roommate has. THEY WILL BALK - FIGHT BACK - DEMAND THEY TELL YOU WHAT SHE HAS OR MOVE YOUR MOTHER IMMEDIATELY INTO A "SAFE" ROOM. Since they can't violate the other woman's rights, they will have no choice but to move your Mother. Please demand the other woman not be given any other roommate until her infection is cleared as they will simply move a patient with no family to protect her into this woman's room. Also, demand your Mother be tested - AT THEIR EXPENSE - and the results given to your Mother's Private Doctor, not the NF's Staff Doctor to see if she has contracted the same illness. If she has, demand the NF be responsible for any and all costs associated with her treatment and have her Personal Doctor be kept in the loop and be permitted to perform his own tests to be sure the NF is following through. Your Mother has a right to use her own toilet and they should never have put someone with a contagious infection into your Mother's room in the first place. The woman should have been quarantined until her infection was clear. MRSA and many other diseases, are rampant in Nursing Homes and hospitals (my Mother contracted it in the ICU of our hospital and it nearly killed her and the hospital's response was to put her BACK into the same ICU in order to treat her). If it's MRSA the other woman has, it isn't ONLY THE BATHROOM your Mother has to worry about, it's everything the woman has contact with, which means everything she touches throughout the day has to be disinfected BEFORE your Mother touches it.

Do your research so when you go to Administration, you are well-armed and let them know you mean business. Find out who owns the nursing facility and threaten to contact them about the issue.

This website shows Medicare Requirements for Abuse/Neglect/Misappropriation etc. In your case, Neglect is obvious as CMS considers it as follows: Neglect - Failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness (42 C.F.R. §488.301).

This is a fairly good site to get you started: iqnursinghomes
Scroll to the bottom for information on infections, though it's not as thorough as I'd like as to contagious diseases.

See this website to get an idea of what possible transmittable infections the woman could have and what precautions the NF should be taking in order to prevent the spread (you might also make a copy of it and take it with you when you speak to Administration):

You might also make a copy of this report and take it with you when you speak to Administration:

Hope this helps! Good luck and keep up the good fight! I've been through all of this myself with my Mother during the last few months of her life. Visit the nursing facility randomly throughout the day, don't have a set routine. If you have to go during certain times, try to have other family members "drop by" unannounced and at random times throughout the day and night. The nursing staff will be much more attentive to your Mother's needs if they know they could "get caught neglecting her" at any moment during the day or night!
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1) Immediately go the nursing home administrator. Let them know what has been going on and if you do not get immediate satisfaction you are going to the Ombudsman.

2) She is paying out of pocket $5000 a month for this? I would add getting a lawyer involved.

3) Finally, the thing these places hate the most is bad press. If you threaten to go to the local TV news and have them profile the place I guarantee you that you will have them eating out of your hands.

God bless and good luck
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This situation is horrific for your dear Mom. I would definitely demand she be placed in a different room immediately---for the money that is being spent for her care I would think you could easily find another nursing home in the area. No one should be made to live like this and the other woman should be moved to an Alzheimers unit . The administration of this place is totally incompetent!
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