Tips on How to Choose a Nursing Home

The responsibility of finding a nursing home for a loved one can be confusing and stressful. It’s important to find a place that is safe and will meet his or her needs. The following are tips that may help family members choose the right nursing home. 

The first tip is to visit several different facilities. This may help quickly eliminate places that don’t feel right or where there are obvious signs that indicate care might not be the best. 

After narrowing down the search, the second tip is to get references on the ones left. Medicare facilities are generally the safest because they are inspected on an annual basis. Through Medicare, families can look up a nursing home to see what kind of rating it has received. 

References still may be found for non-Medicare facilities. Other agencies that may offer referrals is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) or the Commission on Quality Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. 

A third tip is to visit the nursing homes left on the list for a second time. If the staff seems uncomfortable with this or limits the areas that can be seen, there may be a problem. 

Pay attention to the care and condition of the other residents. Are there activities available for them to participate in, or do most of them appear to be left on their own in beds or wheelchairs? 

Do the residents seem to be happy? Are there sounds of moaning or looks of obvious discomfort on their faces? 

Is the environment clean? Ask to see the kitchen and look into some of the residents’ rooms. 

Finally, ask the staff questions. Find out what the staff-to-resident ratio is, how they handle emergencies and how they deal with difficult patients (such as those with Alzheimer’s). According to the Alzheimer’s Association, late-stage Alzheimer’s includes the loss of the ability to speak and help with personal care. So taking special note of the patients who are both difficult and need extra help in the facility may give a good gauge for how a loved one will be treated. 

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