“It is just as important to eliminate the bad facilities, as it is to find a good one.”
Selecting where your loved one will live, can be a gut-wrenching decision. You want to make sure he will be well-cared for and happy. This process is a major responsibility, and you want to get it right. This article will give you tips on how to choose a nursing home.
First, check the reviews and red flags.
The first thing you should do is run a check on the nursing home with government and private agencies. Medicare has an online comparison tool to compare multiple nursing homes side-by-side. The tool helps you locate facilities by zip code or by city and state. It gives ratings on overall experience, inspections, staffing and quality measures. The site tells you if the federal government has levied fines or refused payment to the nursing home. You may also find private online referral sources, such as CareScout and A Place For Mom, to be useful in making your decision.
After you have narrowed down the candidates, be a secret shopper.
Do your own reconnaissance. Drive over and check the facility out. While you are there, make a note of these things:
- Is the location in a safe part of town? If you do not feel safe driving there or going from your car into the facility, you do not want your loved one living there.
- How close is the nursing home to an urgent care center and a hospital?
- Does the home have attractive and comfortable outdoor space for seniors to enjoy the fresh air on a beautiful day? Imagine not getting outside for several months.
- Is there plenty of parking for visitors? The easier it is for people to visit, the more likely your loved one is to have regular visitors.
- Are there any chemical or other unpleasant smells? Any noticeable smell, whether pleasant or not, might be an attempt to mask the aroma of unsanitary conditions.
- Visit during a meal time. Is the food quality acceptable? Do the staff eagerly and cheerfully help the residents who need assistance?
Pay attention to the residents and employees. You can gain insight into what your loved one’s experience will be.
- Do the residents look happy and engaged, or do they look sad and disinterested?
- Read the faces and body language of the staff and administration. Do they look as if they are counting the minutes until they can go home? Do they enjoy their jobs? An unhappy nursing home employee can make life miserable for your loved one.
- Is an effort made to keep residents connected with the “outside world?” When the nursing home staff regularly makes sure that the residents know the day, month and year, the names of the President and the Governor, and know what is going on in the world, it can help stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Are there plenty of activities, both on-site and off-site, for the residents?
Insist on seeing an actual resident’s room. Make a checklist of these items:
- Are the beds comfortable and in good repair?
- Is there plenty of natural light?
- How are the ventilation, air conditioning, and heating? A problem with any of these could become a safety issue, besides affecting your loved one’s comfort.
- Check the bathroom for leaks or other problems.
- Look at the ceiling tiles to see if the roof is in good repair. This tip is one more indication of the quality of the general maintenance of the facility.
- Make sure your loved one will have sufficient storage for their clothing and personal items.
- Will she be allowed to bring in her own furniture and accessories?
Does your loved one’s doctor have patients at this nursing home? Ask the doctor for her opinion of the facility. Last but not least, get recommendations from friends with relatives in nursing homes. It is just as important to eliminate the bad facilities, as it is to find a good one.
Check with a local elder law attorney about your loved one’s rights as a nursing home resident.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care.” (accessed July 4, 2017) https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02174.pdf
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Nursing Home Compare.” (accessed July 4, 2017) https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?
National Eldercare Referral Systems, LLC. “Nationwide Assessments.” (accessed July 4, 2017) https://www.carescout.com/#tab1-tab
A Place For Mom, Inc. “Start Your Senior Care Search.” (accessed July 4, 2017) http://locate.aplaceformom.com/?&kw=3234-BX%3AGSD%3A&kwg=APFM%3A&keyword=a%20place%20for%20mom&distrib=s&match=e&device=c&AdPosition=1t1&mkwid=5GzxjLW8&pcrid=194110265702&network=g&geo=9031687&targetID=kwd-18558071