There really is no place like home. But the time may come when you need the assistance of a nursing home for your loved one. Whether you are looking for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care, choosing a nursing home or care facility can be a difficult and emotional task. You need to be able to trust that your family member will receive the same loving care that you would provide at home.
Here are some practical tips that can give you the confidence that you are choosing the right facility:
- Research the facility. There are websites that provide you with a history of inspections for a given nursing home facility. A search tool at www.medicare.gov allows you to compare facilities. The site uses a star rating based on health inspections and staffing. The more stars, the more favorable the rating. Other, nongovernment sites offer comparative tools and family comments.
- Check for severe violations. Look for clarification and corrective actions on violations involving abandonment, elopement, bed sores, falsification of medical records and medication errors. Since nursing homes are highly regulated, even the smallest infractions are noted, and some items listed may not be important to you.
- Pay attention to the rate of staff turnover. A high staff turnover can indicate that things just aren’t right at the facility. Why are so many employees leaving? Look for signs that the staff and patients have a relationship. Is there a feeling of familiarity to their interactions?
- When you tour a facility, note the ambience. Are residents able to move freely, within reason, around the facility? Do residence rooms have personal effects? Are community rooms such as the library or activity rooms wheelchair friendly? Warm and inviting libraries, activity rooms and residence rooms with personal effects help to avoid an institutional feel.
- Listen to your first impressions. Your gut feelings may be more accurate than you think. If your first impression was poor or something just doesn’t feel right, take note. Notice how the staff interacts with the residents. Trust your instincts. If you don’t like what you see, move on to the next facility.
The transition into a nursing home can be difficult even in the best facilities. Knowing what to look for can help give you the peace of mind that you are making the best choice.