Selecting a nursing home to care for a parent or companion can be tricky. Economic factors come into play as well as the particular needs and activity levels of the patients involved. Location can be another consideration. With the aging of America, these facilities are more popular than ever. The U.S. industry alone accounts for almost $150 billion annually and covers approximately four percent of Americans over 65. In fact, almost 40 percent of Americans 85 or older live in one of these facilities, while about eight percent of people between 65 and 74 are in a home. Despite the challenges, choosing a home for a loved one can be the best decision for all involved because it can provide the care and support needed for older adults. But the process can be daunting. There are various types of facilities, so it is important to be able to distinguish between alternatives such as a skilled nursing facility, which offers 24-hour supervision and nursing care, and assisted living facilities, board and care homes and continuing care retirement homes. HealthyAging.org provides a detailed breakdown of the alternatives. WellWell is also here to help with some basic guidelines and suggestions on where to start looking and how to choose the right nursing home.
It may be challenging to pick the right nursing home, but just imagine the added pressure of finding one in a rush or an emergency. An emergency pick may lead to extra costs for a facility that doesn’t provide precisely what is needed. Planning ahead also makes it easier for everyone to become involved, spouses, children and, of course, patients. This will make any transition easier.
The best nursing home is the one that most closely meets a patient’s immediate and long-term needs. This requires identifying if specialized medical services, care parameters and even activity options are immediately required and may be needed in the future. This type of planning will also help narrow down the focus on the type of facility required from retirement communities to assisted living centers and nursing homes.
Manage The Data Dump
There is likely to be no shortage of advice and suggestions coming from friends, relatives, doctors, social workers and support groups when it comes to picking the right facility. So much information is available that it can be overwhelming and even counterproductive. This is why it is important to manage the information collected so it can be arranged to meet a patient’s particular needs. A chart or spreadsheet can help organize the data and organizations such as AARP, Medicare and AHCA/NCAL have detailed checklists that will help. Just check their websites.
Records, Reports & Accreditations
It is essential to make sure any prospective facility is certified and accredited by Medicare and Medicaid as well as local municipalities and state officials. In addition, administrators and key staff should be licensed by the state. State and federal survey reports are also available to show if health and safety requirements are being met and if the facilities have been cited for abuse. Virtually all of this information can be found online via state survey agency websites and from Medicare.gov, Nursing Home Inspect and NursingHome411.
Make Repeat Visits
Both planned and unplanned visits are recommended as a way of connecting with staff to see how they respond to patients. It is a good way to determine how respectful they are, while also getting a handle on staff size, training and certification levels. These visits can also help determine if the physical facilities offer the desired comfort, safety and cleanliness. It also offers a look at food quality and service as well as the general demeanor of residents.
Staffing is Key
Staffing is key to the comfort and support of patients. Considerations include size, number of quality staff members and low turnover rates. These factors all reflect a facility’s ability to provide superior support and comfort to its patients.
Narrow Choices Before Deciding
If possible, create a short list of options, which will help make it easier to compare the alternatives. These comparisons should go beyond medical care to include things like the cultural and religious aspects of a nursing home. Other considerations might focus on features like hair care, gyms, social activities, private rooms, outings, pets and library and computer access. The essential look of a facility is also important—homey versus glittery for example.
The Small Print
Before making any commitment, review the details of all insurance coverage and contracts. It is also wise to get a second opinion on these matters. Social workers who specialize in patient advocacy are a great source of information and input. A personal attorney is another option. A strong review is important for avoiding long-term financial surprises and hidden charges.
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