Choosing and Evaluating a Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home for your aging parent or loved one is a daunting task. In an AARP article 89%, over the age of 45, of people surveyed, desire to stay home in lieu of any other type of residential facility. No person wishes to live in a nursing home. And, typically, the search takes place in CRISIS mode, when discharge is impending from the hospital or it's no longer possible to provide home care. Here are a few pointers that may help you choose and evaluate the nursing home:

Location, location, location.

Location is the most important factor in choosing a nursing home. Because the quality of care and quality of life is usually better if the nursing home staff know that you are involved and observing. Additionally, visits are the high point of the day or week for the resident. Therefore, the closer you are to the nursing home, the easier it is for family members and friends to visit. Consequently, you have peace of mind.

Check certifying agency reports.

CareScout and HealthGrades provide an unbiased source of ratings and reviews of nursing homes nationwide. Detailed Nursing Home reports are available for a small fee, and include over 100 pieces of information on quality, resident population profiles, and health violations. Also, check the facility to see if there are any pending violations or active law suits. Additionally, Medicare.gov is a useful tool in reviewing nursing homes. The site includes a rating system where licensed facilities are rated between one through five stars on the basis of quality. Also, general information is provided about the nursing home facilities health, fire & safety inspections, different levels of staffing and costs.

Tour the nursing home.

Try not to be impressed by a fancy lobby or depressed by an older, more rundown facility. What matters most is the quality of care and the interactions between staff and residents.  Also, take a tour of the facility that is not prearranged. While this is not always possible, it does give you the opportunity of seeing an unrehearsed atmosphere. Examine the floors — are they clean? How about the restrooms? Are the residents busy, lively or complacent and sullen?  What types of actives are provided? What is the client-to-staff ratio and response time? It is easy to check this by noticing the call lights above the doors and seeing how long it takes for someone to respond to the call. Take in the surroundings.  Do you have a positive feel about the place overall or not so? Trust your instincts. As to staffing, aides will have the most contact with residents. Does this facility perform regular criminal background checks?

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