Few things are worse than finding a loved one being cared for at a nursing home has been abused, neglected, violated, or exploited in some way.

While Connecticut itself consistently has nursing homes with five-star ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), generally good performance is of little comfort when you find staff neglected your family member’s needs and medical attention.

However, it’s possible to lessen the risks of having your loved one end up in this vulnerable situation by doing research into the following before care is needed.

1. Research citations

The Connecticut Department of Public Health issues Class A (immediate danger of death or serious harm) and Class B (probability of death or serious harm) citations when the CMS conducts its annual investigations. These are compiled into a report, called the Facility Licensing and Investigation Section of the Department of Public Health. The list indicates whether or not the nursing facility received a citation during the past 12 months.

The data included goes back to the CMS determining if a home meets all Medicare and Medicaid performance standards; reviews are done one a year, or more frequently if a home receives a citation. As well, the contracted organization investigates complaints about nursing care. During a review, trained inspectors, including one registered nurse, interview samplings of family members, staff, and caregivers and assesses the facility to determine if it’s physically safe and meets residents’ needs for safe storage, food preparation, protection against physical and mental abuse, and quality care practices.

2. Obtain a state inspection report

The Department of Public Health’s report does not answer two crucial questions: What was the citation, and what did the facility do about it? It’s recommended, then, that to dig a bit more you get an inspection report from the state or ask the home for Form 2567.

3. Inquire about staffing

Reports aside, you should assess the home yourself: Take a look at the number of staff available. Corporatization of nursing care often means too few staff members with insufficient training get assigned to far too many residents, essentially significantly increasing the risks of negligence and abuse.

In an ideal situation, one registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or certified vocational nurse and one certified nurse’s assistant are on hand for five residents in the day, 10 in the evening, and 15 at night.

4. Look at the nursing home’s history

Reports, forms, and even a current assessment only show part of a nursing home’s history – and only focus on the present. To go further back in time, regarding citations and violations, Propublica offers a tool that ranks nursing homes, by state, in terms of deficiencies over the past three years or three inspection cycles.

Although ranks change, the Connecticut facilities consistently with the most citations include:

1. The Springs At Watermark 3030 Park, Bridgeport

2. Fox Hill Center, Rockville

3. Lutheran Home Of Southbury, Inc., Southbury

4. Walnut Hill Care Center, New Britain

5. Apple Rehab, Rocky Hill