The responsibility of choosing the nursing home facility best suited to care for an aging loved one and their healthcare needs is significant. Striking the best balance between care, cost, and convenience is no mean feat.
The emotional toll of entrusting your loved one’s care to another is also something you’ll need to deal with. That’s why carefully assessing several key factors is essential to ensure your nursing home choice is made wisely. Use these tips to guide you through the decision-making process and get the necessary details to make an informed choice.
1. Learn About Quality of Care Standards
Your loved one’s safety is doubtless your top concern when considering a nursing home. Reports of elder abuse in hospitals, home health facilities, and nursing homes recount terrifying acts against a vulnerable population. While a nursing home abuse attorney can assist you if the need ever arises, it’s not an outcome anyone wants.
The first step toward preventing elder abuse is assessing a facility’s quality of care. From the outside, this may seem challenging, especially since nursing home visits are guided, with everyone on their best behavior. However, a review of a few factors can indicate a facility’s ability to provide quality care.
Request their health inspection records from the past few years, which can flag cleanliness issues and their resolution. Paired with information regarding the home’s staffing levels, you can see how work conditions and staff time can impact care. Lastly, ask for their quality measure data, often assessed by a county or state agency. If a facility refuses to provide this information, it may signal that the data indicates poor or even risky performance.
2. Become Familiar With Cost and Payment Options
The cost of nursing home care can be astonishing. However, when you consider the round-the-clock staffing, residential care, and nutrition requirements, the costs start to make sense. Add in the dynamic health, treatment, and physical therapy needs that often arise during advanced age, and it’s no wonder costs skyrocket.
Get specific information about a facility’s costs, variable expenses, and any planned price increases. This data can help you plan long-term, especially if your loved one is entering care at a relatively young age. Review any financial disclosures or agreements that residents or their caregivers would be expected to sign. If you’re unsure, consult with a trusted lawyer to review the paperwork.
Many facilities coordinate with Social Security and Medicaid to cover the cost of care. For qualifying individuals, this may impact their Supplemental Security Income. Discuss payment obligations, options, and potential changes with the facilities you’re considering. Review your loved one’s current Social Security and other retirement income to determine their ability to pay. Bring this information to a trusted financial advisor, whose input can be valuable in planning for this long-term financial commitment.
3. Get the Details About the Facility’s Safety and Security Protocols
Beyond a nursing home’s ability to provide quality nursing and emotional care is physical security. The transition from independent living to assisted or nursing care is a big change. Add in the common mental changes as one ages, and physical security becomes even more important.
Speak with the nursing home’s leadership regarding the building’s security features, monitoring systems, and alert protocols. Most facilities should be able to provide a facility map and plans for how they address security issues. If they provide transportation off-site for outings like shopping and salon trips, learn about their staff-to-resident ratio. The safety and security of your loved one are of the utmost importance, so no question is off-limits.
Similarly, you should inquire about how they handle challenging issues, like residents who leave a facility without authorization. This situation can be scary for you, the facility staff, and your loved one, especially for those in memory care. Individuals can react emotionally, even becoming violent, requiring patience and additional interpersonal skills to de-escalate the situation. Ask about staff’s ability to handle such issues, what training they’ve received, and their prevention plans for unauthorized departures.
4. Request Information About Programming and Activities
Mental stimulation is essential for aging brains, and a nursing home’s programming is important for both entertainment and health. Pick up programming calendars and request a tour while programming is taking place.
Many high-quality facilities offer a range of on-site activities and select off-site excursions. Think about your loved one’s interests and mobility needs to ensure the framework that’s in place meets their needs.
If there’s a programming gap, ask whether expanded programming is available, especially if the facility is otherwise a match. Your loved one’s request may spark the interest of other residents, improving programming options for everyone.
Making a Well-Informed Choice for Your Loved One’s Care
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to begin your search. Beyond focusing on a specific geographic area, ask trusted friends, colleagues, and family members for referrals. Most people will be happy to share their experiences, passing on real-life examples of a facility’s quality of care.
Take your time in your search, interviewing administrators at potential facilities and asking the questions most important to you. Your loved one deserves a thorough, thoughtful search, so resist the urge to make a quick decision. With your careful assessment, you’ll be on your way to finding a high-quality nursing home for your loved one’s needs.