Risk Management in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

by | May 14, 2024

In the business of senior living, the stakes are inherently hight, serving clients on the twilight journey towards an inevitable end. This inevitability brings not only the natural grief of parting but also the specter of legal recriminations from those left behind. Senior living facilities, then, might be seen not just as caretakers but as guides along this final passage, tasked with ensuring the journey is as serene as possible to prevent that grief from descending into litigation.

In this delicate balance, the comfort and safety of residents are paramount—these spaces must not only be God’s waiting rooms but sanctuaries of peace and dignity. To fall short is to amplify the sorrow of bereavement and to invite lawsuits.

Yet, while the happiness of residents is crucial, it is the residents’ relatives who wield the legal power. Lawsuits originate not from the residents themselves, but from their families, who may feel aggrieved or neglected by the facility.

The root of many such legal challenges? A failure in communication. When families feel sidelined or ignored, legal action can become a loudspeaker for their distress.

Fostering Effective Communication with Families


  1. Building Trust: Continuous, transparent communication establishes trust between the facility or nursing home and residents’ families. When relatives are kept well-informed about the care their loved ones receive and the facility’s policies, they are more likely to view the facility as a partner in the care process.
  2. Preventing Misunderstandings: Most disputes stem from miscommunications. By regularly updating families on residents’ health and any changes in care or daily activities, facilities can mitigate misunderstandings and preempt potential conflicts.
  3. Responsive Feedback: Communication must be a dialogue. Listening to families’ feedback offers invaluable insights, allowing facilities to adjust care practices and meet both resident and family expectations more effectively.
  4. Crisis Management: When crises occur, swift and clear communication is critical. Keeping families informed during such times reduces panic and demonstrates the facility’s competence in managing difficult situations.
  5. Legal Safeguarding: Involvement and transparency not only reduce the likelihood of legal action but also demonstrate due diligence, a crucial defense should disputes reach the courts.

Despite the simplicity of these strategies, their implementation can be anything but straightforward. They demand considerable sensitivity and skill from staff who may already be stretched thin, risking further strain.

Technology to the Rescue

Fortunately, technological solutions can bridge gaps in communication without overwhelming facility resources. An exemplary tool is the How’s Mom app, which integrates seamlessly with a facility’s Electronic Health Records (EHR). This platform enables effortless communication between care staff, residents, and family members. Relatives can chat with residents, provide feedback, and stay informed about care decisions through a user-friendly interface.

The genesis of How’s Mom was personal. Created by Matt Prasek after his grandfather’s serious injury led him to spend extensive time in a nursing home, the app was born from his desire to reduce the burden on both families and staff by streamlining updates and information flow.

How’s Mom not only facilitates communication but also ensures compliance and enhances risk mitigation strategies. This tool is just one of many that we recommend to our clients in senior living, as part of a comprehensive approach to effective risk management and liability reduction.

For more details on these strategies and tools, please contact Michael Richards or Dale Nelson at 855.351.7487 or Contact us.

Through such measures, senior living facilities can transform the narrative of the final chapters for their residents and their families, from one of potential strife to one of supported, dignified closure.

Michael Richards

Michael Richards

President, Westwood Insurance Group

Michael began his insurance career over twenty years ago, working with a risk purchasing group, giving him a wealth of experience in both medical malpractice insurance and captives. Since founding the Westwood Insurance Group in 2001, Michael has developed solid relationships with many underwriters serving the healthcare and senior living marketplaces and is able to effectively help commercial agents with coverage for their clients

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Michael Richards, President, Westwood Insurance Group

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