Alan D. Feller, Esq.
10 Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home
We arrive at most of our biggest life decisions after a period of contemplation and evaluation. Choosing a college and buying a home are processes that involve months and years of research, planning and execution. Selecting a nursing home for a loved one is usually done in haste after a harrowing and exhausting experience with hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Bringing a person home to receive care in a familiar setting is the hope and wish of every family, but sometimes the care needs of that individual will not be best served in their current living space. Nursing homes provide a systematic and supervised care environment for people requiring long term physical and mental care. There are traits that all well-run nursing homes share. Being aware of these 10 characteristics will help you help the people you love who need care.
1. Look for an abundance of health care staff working on the long-term floors. The lifeblood of any nursing home are the medical personnel and aides who service the residents. Walking through the halls of a nursing home should alert you to the daytime staffing situation. Is it sufficient or is there an apparent shortage? Nighttime staffing is more difficult to gauge, but focusing on staffing in general is a useful starting point.
2. Communications with the Nursing Home’s admissions and business office should be professional and straightforward. Admissions agreements, Medicaid approval and private pay arrangements involve thousands of dollars that are either saved or spent. Nursing home business and admissions offices should work with you in a professional and patient manner. Their expectation of compensation should be balanced by the reality of the family’s vulnerability during this very difficult time.
3. Are the residents in different activity rooms or all in bed? A quiet Nursing Home is not necessarily a well-functioning nursing home. Residents that are in bed are not socializing, receiving physical therapy or possibly eating.
4. Is Physical and Occupational Therapy prioritized for long term residents vs. short term rehabilitation patients? Once a rehabilitation patient transitions to long term status there is often a drop-off in the frequency and extent of physical therapy. Look for Nursing Homes that highlight their physical therapy programs for long term patients.
5. Food, heating and cooling. Quality of life is a major factor in maintaining positivity during a Nursing Home stay. Food that patients find enjoyable is a plus. Air conditioning and heating should be appropriate for the season. As every New Yorker knows, drafty rooms should be avoided at all cost.
6. Rates of bed sores, pressure ulcers and attention to repositioning. There are on-line databases full of information regarding how well a facility handles repositioning its patients to avoid bedsores. They are useful resources when combined with all the factors included here.
7. The feeling you get walking through the facility’s doors. Having walked through countless nursing homes for professional and personal reasons, never undervalue the feelings you experience when you pass the front door. This will be a place you visit often.
8. Proximity to your home. If your loved ones will not see you enough because the facility is too far then that Nursing Home may not be a good fit.
9. Maintenance staff and repairs. Look to see if routine maintenance is being performed. Are elevators broken? Do you see visible leaks? Are rooms being updated? Your loved one has to live in this place.
10. Talk to friends, neighbors and professionals who have experience with area nursing homes. You are not alone. Insight will come from many sources.
Keeping these tips in mind when you are faced with a long-term care situation will help you make a reasoned and informed decision. Consult with the professionals at Sloan and Feller to get a more complete picture and how to prepare for the process.