How to Find a Good Nursing Home
Is a Nursing Home the Right Choice?
Every situation is unique. Be sure that a nursing home is the best option for you or your loved one. Speak to doctors, hospital staff and/or a social worker to determine the patient’s needs.
It may be possible that another type of facility such as assisted living, skilled nursing, a family member’s home or retirement community, may be a better option. The patient may even be able to remain in their own home with some assistance. A complete geriatric assessment may be beneficial.
Choosing the Best Nursing Home Facility
When a loved one reaches a point in life when they require more care, it can be very difficult to accept; for the patient as well as the family. Not being able to live independently can be a scary reality.
If the person who will be going into a nursing home is able to help with the decision making, give them the respect to voice their opinions. Let them be part of the process as much as possible.
Whether you are searching for a nursing home as a permanent residence or a short-term stay such as a few weeks for rehab, you want to choose a facility that is the best for you or your loved one. This decision can be quite difficult and stressful. This article will give you information and details about what you should consider to make an informed decision.
Patient's Health Insurance
Determine what type of medical insurance the patient has and what the policy covers. It is possible that a nursing home does not accept a specific insurance so knowing this information up front is important.
Nursing Home Location
Determine the ideal area to locate a nursing home. Choosing a nursing home that is close in proximity to family members and friends who are likely to visit is critical. Moving to a nursing home is a difficult transition for most. Having those closest to the patient able to visit and show support is a major influence in their well being.
Word-of-Mouth Nursing Home Recommendations
Although you should always do your own research when considering potential nursing homes, recommendations from people that you trust can be extremely helpful in narrowing down your search. If you know someone who is familiar with a particular facility that you are considering, speak to them about their experience.
Create a List of Potential Nursing Home Facilities
Search online and in local phone books for potential nursing homes. Begin creating a list of those facilities that you would like to learn more about. Jot down names, addresses and phone numbers.
Check Out the Help Wanted Ads
Typically, nursing homes with a high turnover rate have underlying problems meaning the employees often look elsewhere for work. They do not feel committed to the facility. Constant job openings such Director and nursing positions could be a warning sign.
Prepare to Make Phone Calls to Admissions Departments
Make phone calls to nursing homes you are interested in prior to spending the time on an in-person visit. Here are some things you should consider discussing over the phone.
What Insurance Does the Nursing Home Accept?
Does the nursing facility accept Medicare AND most major insurances as well? It is better to choose a facility that accepts both because Medicare and private insurance companies have separate accrediting processes that lead to a higher level of overall accountability.
Typically, medical insurance will fall into three main categories: Medicare Part A, Medicaid and private insurance (that may be a supplement to Medicare coverage).
Depending on the time frame of your needs, be sure to ask if there are beds available immediately and/or if there is a waiting list.
What is Their Medication Policy
Many facilities will state that they use a “minimal drug policy” meaning medications are administered minimally as to not make the patient too tired where they cannot interact in daily activities. If a patient is given too much medication to a point where they are sleeping a lot and lethargic, it will make things easier for the staff but not necessarily the patient. Obtain information so that you understand their policy.
It Is Your Right To Be Nosy!
Ask any question you wish! No question should be off limits. Also, on your tour, you should be able to see everything that goes on behind the scenes as well.
Once you feel comfortable with the initial details of at least a few nursing homes you have spoken with over the phone and it appears that the nursing home can meet the needs of the patient, it’s time to plan a visit.
Take a list with you of all the questions you wish to ask and the areas in the facility that you would like to visit.
Consider This: Although it is okay to schedule an appointment, just showing up without an appointment is a wise idea. This way, your visit is not expected and you will witness a "normal day" at the location. No matter what time during the day you visit, there should always be someone ready and willing to give you a tour.
When arriving at the nursing home in person, take a look at the outside of the facility. Is the building structure well maintained? What about the parking lot? Are the flower beds neatly groomed? Visible signs of neglect before walking into the building can give you an idea that there may be other instabilities you will find inside as well.
When you walk inside the facility, what is your first impression? Does it smell clean? Does it feel comfortable and welcoming?
Availability of Recent Facility Inspection Reports
When you enter the facility and look around the lobby, you should find the most recent Federal government facility inspection report available for anyone to view. Regardless of the results, this is not something that should be hidden. If you have not seen this report either online or in person, feel free to ask.
Safety and Security
- Are there smoke detectors and fire extinguishers easily located?
- What precautionary measures are in place in case of an emergency?
- Look around to see if exits and stairways are clearly marked.
- Is there a special system in place for visitors to sign in?
- Is there additional security for patients who may "wander" due to dementia, etc.?
- Do they utilize other security equipment such as bed or chair alarms?
Does the facility offer a place for worship? What religious services are available? Is there a Chapel? For many patients and their families, this information is extremely important.
Resident’s Personal Space
Moving to a nursing home can be extremely emotional for all involved. If it is important to the patient, find out if there are private rooms available?
- Do the rooms look clean? Do the rooms smell clean?
- Are they well lit?
- If sharing a room, is there sufficient space?
- Does each room have a its own bathroom?
- Does each room have its own control over heat and air conditioning?
- Can the resident rooms be personalized?
- Does each room have an individual emergency response system in place?
Ask if residents are allowed to bring things from home such as a favorite recliner chair, pillows, blankets, framed pictures to hang on the wall and other items that will help with the transition.
Ask about the food served to residents.
- Is there a separate location such as a dining area where residents eat together and not alone?
- Do the residents complain about the food?
- Are there three meals a day?
- Is there a variety of different foods served to meet the needs and likes of the residents?
- Will staff be there to assist in feeding residents that need help?
- Ask to see the kitchen.
- Sample the food if you’d like.
Grooming and Amenities
- Do residents appear to be clean and well groomed?
- How often are showers available/given to the residents?
- Are there special bathing devices such as handrails for safety?
- Are laundry services available?
- Is housekeeping done on a daily basis?
- Are hair salon services available?
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Are physical therapists on staff? What type of exercise do the patients receive?
Socializing and Daily Activities
- Notice if the staff knows all the patients by name. Are they friendly, respectful and supportive of the residents?
- Does the facility stress the importance of allowing residents to be as independent as possible?
- Do the residents appear genuinely happy?
- Are there appropriate areas for socializing?
- What social activities are offered?
- Are there outings offered that include transportation to off-site locations?
- Are there areas available such as a meditation room or library?
- What about outdoor space such as a walking path and garden area?
- Is there a calendar of events? Ask for a copy.
- What is the policy for allowing animals to visit?
- What activities are offered to enhance the resident’s quality of life?
U.S. Medicare Nursing Home Comparisons
Find and Compare Senior Communities
National Nursing Home Watch List (details facilities cited for violations by state)
Nursing Home Inspection Information
Elder Care Locator
Choosing a nursing home is a difficult task and there really is a lot to consider when doing your research. There are great facilities all over the world where our loved ones are sure to be comfortable, safe and well taken care of. Whatever nursing home you choose, be sure it is one where your loved one's quality of life will be enhanced. By doing your homework in exploring potential nursing homes, you will be much more content with your decision.
Best wishes to you and your family,
This is Sharyn’s Slant