When choosing a nursing home for your loved one, there are more than a few key points that you will want to focus on. As a registered nurse, working as a nursing supervisor in a nursing home, I am well informed to offer some tips and suggestions on what to look for when choosing a nursing home. While the decision of placing your loved one in a nursing home can be difficult one to make, being an informed consumer can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that can accompany your decision.
The first order of business when it comes to choosing a nursing home for your family member or loved one will be taking a tour of the nursing home or long term care facility. You can schedule the tour with a member of the nursing home management team, or you can simply drop in unannounced. Most of the time, an impromptu visit will be very telling. My first recommendation to a family who is contemplating choosing a nursing home for their loved one is to ascertain whether there are any offending or strong odors when they first enter the nursing home. A strong smell of urine that hits you in the face as soon as you walk in, is a bad sign. Next, peruse the floors. Are they clean, shiny and free from sticky material? Floors should be clean and be free from any obstructions. This is extremely important as falls in the nursing home are an ongoing problem. I also advise families who are searching for a nursing home to be aware of the temperature inside. If it’s too hot or too cold for them, imagine how it will feel to an elderly sick individual. Do the walls have handrails on them to help support an unsteady resident? They should. The nurses station is also a good indication of the general cleanliness and order of the facility. The nurses station should not be a dumping ground for medical records, charts and medical supplies. Medical supplies should never be stored at the nurses station. They should always be neatly stored in the supply room or clean utility room.
Another insider tip that I offer families choosing a nursing home, is interact with the nursing and caregiver staff. How do they interact with you. Ask yourself if they appear pleasant and hard working and if they appear interested in the residents. They should interact with the residents in a pleasant professional manner. Also, monitoring how long it takes for the caregiver to answer a call light is of utmost importance. The call lights should be answered promptly and courteously. Take a look at the residents. If they don’t look clean and well taken care of, high tail yourself out of there. It’s a very good sign if the residents appear to be happy and if they are interacting with the other residents and the staff.
The Activity Department plays a vital role in choosing a nursing home for your loved one. Ask to see the activity calendar and check to see if you think the activities are appropriate for nursing home residents. Ask about religious services and if they take the residents out on any day trips if this is applicable to your family member. Also, I suggest that the families inquire about beauty and barber shop services and how those services are paid.
Does the nursing home accept Medicare and Medicaid payments. This is important as it will determine what kind of paperwork you will need to submit. Also, ask the Admissions Department to explain the billing process to you, so you don’t encounter any unwelcome billing surprises.
This next helpful hint might just be the most important thing that a family can look for when choosing a nursing home or long term care facility. Ask to see the nursing home’s department of public health’s latest survey on the facility. You really should not have to look far for this information because it is required by law to be posted in prominent view of the public. In the public health state survey, look for any violations or deficiencies that the state writes about. You can also ask the administrator to explain the deficiencies to you and what the nursing home plans are to correct the problems. If a nursing home does receive any violations or deficiency tags from the public health department, they are required by law to submit a formal plan of correction to answer how they will correct them.
Knowledge can be a powerful ally. When you are empowered with knowledge, you are better able to make a more informed decision on choosing a nursing home for your loved one.