One of the most painful experiences in a person’s life is when it comes time to put their parents in a nursing home. Sons and daughters are often left feeling guilty and powerless due to their own inability to care for their beloved parents. This is truly a frightening experience, because now someone else will be held responsible for making sure that your parent’s needs are met. How can you be sure that they will take of them? How will you know if they are comfortable or if they are sick? Will the nursing home try to cheat your Mom and Dad out of money?
The first step in finding a suitable nursing home is to ask around for references. Do you have any friends whose parents are in a similar situation? Ask them what they liked about the facility and what they didn’t.
The second step is to plan a visit. Some nursing homes will give tours, no matter what time of day it is.
The third step is to ask questions. Lots of questions. The administrative staff has usually been trained on how to give the perfect answer. Like the administrative staff, supervisors have also been trained to give perfect answers, but to a lesser extent. For honest, unpracticed answers, try asking the nursing staff some questions. Also very helpful are the housekeeping staff and well as the dietary staff. And why shouldn’t they be? Some housekeepers and dietary aides spend more times talking with residents than the actual nurses or aides do. They have a very good idea of how the quality of life is at the home that you’re visiting. Listed below are some questions that should be asked on your initial visit. More substantial questions should be asked later in a private meeting when you are truly considering make this Mom and Dad’s new home.
1. What is the nurse to patient ratio? What is the aide to patient ratio? (Remember: nurses will be the ones proving medications, doing treatments, calling the doctor, ect. Aides are the ones who will take your mom or dad to the bathroom, get them dressed, feed them, ect.)
2. What happens if my mom falls? Will I be notified?
3. What activities are available?
4. Is there a Resident Council? (This is a group of residents who meet about once a month to voice their concerns or sing their praises to administrative staff.)
5. Will I get a detailed bill of expenses? (This is very important. Whether on purpose or accidental , patient care is very expensive. One mis-charge could end up costing a fortune.)
6. How often are the rooms cleaned?
7. Will I be notified if there are any medication changes?
8. What kind of therapy do you offer?
9. Will my dad be kicked out due to inability to pay? (Some nursing homes have a private fund that it can pull from if a resident runs out of money.)
10. Do you have a menu that I could take home to look at?
11. My mother is a diabetic. Do you always offer sugar- free desserts and snacks?
12. If my mom doesn’t like the planned entree, what other options are available to her?
13. Am I allowed to bring food into the facility?
14. What are visiting hours?
15. Does your facility use restraints?
16. How often do your residents go outside? Do they ever go out to eat as a group, or to a department store, ect.?
17. Is your staff/ patient turnover rate high?
18. Are my mom’s pets allowed to visit her?
19. Is maintenance available 24/ 7?
20. What happens if my mother becomes hostile or violent?
These are just a few to get you started. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to catch a staff member off guard and ask them if they like working there. If they pause for a long time, it’s usually a tell-tale sign that instead of saying what they want, they are thinking of what to say for the “right” answer. Facial expressions on residents are also a clear indicator of how happy they are there. Be sure to get clear cut answers. If that facility can’t give you any, move on to the next one. It will be well worth it to find the perfect home for Mom and Dad.