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Seek nurse to resolve care issues

Dear Carol: My mother is in a nursing home, and I have some issues I'm not happy about. I've talked to the day nurse, but I'm not entirely satisfied with her answer. What else can I do? - Anna...

Dear Carol: My mother is in a nursing home, and I have some issues I'm not happy about. I've talked to the day nurse, but I'm not entirely satisfied with her answer. What else can I do? - Anna

Dear Anna: You did the right thing by starting with the nurse, although the certified nursing assistant who oversees most of your mom's day-to-day care may know even more. Generally, I'd first seek out the CNA who is most often in charge of your mom's hands-on care, unless, of course, she is the issue. If that didn't help, I'd talk with the floor nurse, though it's fine that you started there.

I always advise people to start with the most direct caregiver when they have questions about care. Frequently, care issues are just misunderstandings and they can be remedied by a conversation with the most direct caregivers. Sometimes you have to go higher, and find the supervising nurse or even the home's administrator.

If you still aren't getting a satisfactory answer to your question, and you feel that you are being reasonable in your expectations, then you could contact the ombudsman for your area.

An ombudsman is an independent advocate who handles consumer complaints about government-regulated agencies. Since nursing homes are government-regulated agencies, they qualify.

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In Fargo, the regional long-term care ombudsman works out of Southeast Human Services. The phone number is (701) 298-4413 or toll-free (888) 342-4900. North Dakotans can also call the North Dakota State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at (701)

328-4617 or (800) 451-8693.

If you are in Minnesota, for ombudsman services, call toll-free (800) 657-3591. They will help you find the ombudsman for your area. Services vary with each state, but these people can help direct you if you need more help. Online you can find the National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center at www.ltcombudsman.org .

Naturally, if you suspect actual abuse, the patient climb up the ladder of authority should be skipped, and you should go directly to the ombudsman or the Department of Human Services.

Anna, questions similar to yours often come up in hospital settings, as well. In that case, you should ask to talk to someone in the patient advocate department. These people are there to help you sort out issues you may have with the hospital or clinic, much as an ombudsman would, though they are employed by the facility you have questions about. Still, they can be very helpful.

Senior Transportation:

We've got a fantastic change in local transportation for elders. Starting Jan. 1, the Fargo Senior Commission is expanding its service to Moorhead and Dilworth and adding some additional service to West Fargo. The cost is $2 per ride, which is reasonable for getting around the metro area. For questions or to schedule a ride, call (701) 293-1440.

Bursack is the author of a support book on family elder care. To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to

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www.in-forum.com and click on columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at cbursack@forumcomm.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Seek nurse to resolve care issues Carol Bradley Bursack 20071230

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