How to Choose a Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a huge decision. Moving out of a cherished family home can be a depressing and scary time for anyone.

Today, more than 1.5 million Americans live in assisted living facilities, but how do you make sure you choose the right nursing facility?

Your decision depends on a range of factors. Follow these steps to make the best decision for your loved one.

Consider What You Want

Every senior has their priorities.

Firstly, consider which level of care is required. Seriously ill seniors may need hospice care, whereas others may be in the early stages of dementia and will thus require special care units. You can learn more about what nursing homes offer in your area with the Nursing Home Database, detailing more than 15,000 U.S. nursing homes.

Beyond what you need, think about what your loved one wants. Some examples of what your senior may want include:

  • Great meals
  • Physical therapy
  • Religious connections
  • Close to family and friends

Due to so much variation in nursing homes, it makes sense to create a shortlist of nursing homes rather than opting for the first option.

Talk to Friends and Family

Chances are you’re not the only person in your circle who has gone through the challenging process of finding a nursing home for a loved one.

Talk to family, friends, work colleagues, social workers, and religious groups to get suggestions. Healthcare providers are another excellent source of information because they have first-hand knowledge.

Examine the Inspection Results

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is responsible for inspecting nursing homes around the country. Only with their certification can a nursing home access government funding, which most nursing homes rely on to provide a quality service.

Homes that fail to pass inspection won’t be certified and may even have action taken against them if the conditions are particularly poor.

Nursing homes need to be recertified regularly, so go out of your way to obtain a copy of the latest inspection report and certification. Cross that home off your list if they’ve failed to be certified.

Get in Touch

Get in touch with different nursing homes. Ask them questions about how many people are living there, the standard of accommodation, and the costs. Beware that some popular nursing homes may have extensive waiting lists.

Many nursing homes also have websites with pictures and further information about their facilities, events, and what it’s like for residents living there.

Visit the Facility

Always visit the facility before deciding on the right nursing home for you. Make sure you meet both the facility director and the nursing director. Depending on your loved one’s condition, take them along for a visit.

If you’re wondering what to look for beyond gut feeling, follow the Medicare Nursing Home Checklist. Some of the aspects they recommend focusing on include the following:

  • Handicap access
  • Interactions between staff and residents
  • Condition of the residents
  • Medicare and Medicaid certifications

Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions while visiting. What matters is your loved one gets the care they deserve.

For example, if you smell a strong odor while visiting, ask the staff why. Bad smells are a telltale sign of poor-quality facilities.

It’s also worth asking how long senior staff and each director have worked at the nursing home. Changing staff regularly could indicate a toxic environment.

Visit the Facility a Second Time

Make a second visit to the facility. During the visit, your scheduled appointment means you only see one side of the facility. A second visit at another time of day or part of the week enables you to meet other staff members and witness other activities.

Stopping by during mealtimes is highly recommended so you can get a feel for the food’s quality and the dining room’s ambiance.

Read Your Contract

Once you have settled on a nursing home, read the contract terms carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask the director about anything that doesn’t make sense.

Get a second set of eyes to look over the contract away from the nursing home. Asking a family member or friend to read it can offer a second opinion and pinpoint anything you might have missed.

Conclusion on how to Choose a Nursing Home

Moving your loved one into a nursing home when they can no longer live independently requires careful thought.

Make sure you and your senior are happy with the decision, even if it means spending extended periods visiting nursing homes.

What tips do you have for choosing an excellent nursing home?

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