How to Choose a Good Nursing Home
Posted on November 2015
When we’re kids, our parents take care of us. They feed us, support us, and keep us safe and able to participate in all that life has to offer. But as we age, the traditional parent-child relationship oftentimes reverses itself. Our parents can begin to experience a decline in health, cognitive function, and memory retention and, as their child, we tend to become their caretakers.
It’s a tough thing to watch, especially for families who don’t see each other as often as they’d like. Many children who have moved away to start families of their own find themselves trying to care for their parents from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
Whether you live down the street or across the country from your folks, it’s likely that, eventually, one or both of your parents will require more hands-on assistance than you can provide. If the time comes that you have to consider a nursing home as an option for your parent(s), finding a facility that meets their needs can be a little daunting.
Types of Nursing Homes
The level of care your parents or elderly family members will require depends on any medical conditions they may have as well as their physical abilities, mobility, mental function, and other factors. Thankfully, there are several different kinds of nursing homes, each designed to help elderly individuals throughout their old age at varying levels of ability. Below is a breakdown and brief description of five of the most common types of care facilities typically utilized by families with aging loved ones.
Home Care: This option allows individuals to stay in their homes for a bit longer by providing a caretaker to help them with basic daily tasks such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, and making meals. Care can be 24/7 or just span a portion of each day.
Independent Living: Best suited for those who do not have any major medical conditions and are largely able to tend to themselves, independent living is much like an apartment complex. Nurses are on staff to help when needed but, for the most part, residents manage their own time and resources.
Assisted Living: Similar to independent living communities, assisted living is best for seniors who can’t live on their own but don’t need 24/7 care. Typically, staff will do things like administer medication, prepare meals, and clean for residents.
Residential Care: These facilities are usually smaller and are sometimes based out of an actual home. Residents have access to round-the-clock care but are typically still able to perform basic functions for themselves and do not have any severe medical or behavioral problems.
Nursing Homes: If your elderly loved one requires constant care and attention or suffers from a debilitating medical condition, such as Alzheimer’s, a nursing home is the best option. These facilities staff various medical professionals who provide skilled care, close monitoring, and are trained for emergency situations.
Starting Your Search: What to Look For
Once you’ve identified which kind of care facility would be best suited to your loved one’s needs, you should begin setting up appointments to visit some within your area. Just like house hunting or shopping for a new car, looking for the perfect nursing home can get overwhelming, especially when you are visiting multiple facilities each day.
To combat this, have a list of questions prepared and come armed with a pen and notepad for writing down details that may be hard to remember later. As you tour each facility, pay attention to these critical components of a good nursing home:
Building/Facility: Inspect the exterior of the facility looking for signs that it is well kept. A good nursing home will likely have landscaped areas, paved parking, accessible ramps, common outdoor spaces, and an area designated for the use of emergency service vehicles.
Rooms: As you tour the rooms check to make sure they are cheerfully decorated and provide a sufficient amount of natural light/outside views. Rooms should be appropriately furnished while still having ample space to move around in. Ideally, rooms would be private or semi-private and feature their own bathroom.
Residents: Observe the facility’s current residents. Are they smiling? Do they seem happy? Ask about their daily schedules. A good nursing home will provide a certain level of structure in the form of planned activities but will also allow residents free time for visiting, resting, etc.
Staff: Monitor staff members as you take your tour. If a nursing home is well run, staff should be attentive to resident needs and requests, while remaining professional and friendly. Rude or gruff staff is an indicator they are not happy. Unhappy staff makes for unhappy residents.
Questions to Ask
Finding the right care facility is crucial to your loved one’s happiness, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you feel are necessary to be able to make an informed decision. You will likely come up with several questions pertinent to your specific situation but there are a few more general questions that should be asked at each location you visit. Some of these are questions to ask yourself whereas others might be good questions to ask staff members:
- Is the location of this facility easy to get to and convenient for friends and family to visit?
- How far is the facility from your family member’s doctor or primary care physician?
- Is the building in a quiet area, away from excessive road noise and busy highways?
- Is the nursing home certified and accredited by the JCAHO (Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare)?
- How many beds does the facility have?
- What are the visiting hours?
- What security measures are taken to keep residents safe?
- Do residents go on organized outings or get outside time to themselves?
- Does the facility offer transportation services?
- How does the EAP (Emergency Action Plan) work?
Resources for Finding Nursing Homes
When you begin to consider finding a nursing home for your parent or loved one, be sure to consult with their doctor. They may be able to refer you to a specific facility or at least help you narrow down what kind of facility is best for your family. The websites below also offer tools to help make locating a nursing home even easier:
Nursing Home Neglect
While nursing homes are meant to keep our elderly family members safe, healthy, and happy, this is, unfortunately, not always the case. There are nursing homes out there that are unaccredited; that operate with under trained and overworked staff that do not have the time or knowledge to properly care for our aging family members.
If you suspect that a member of your family is suffering from nursing home abuse or neglect, contact DeMayo Law Offices as soon as possible. Nursing home abuse and neglect can cause serious emotional and physical problems and can put the ongoing health of your loved ones at risk. Our attorneys aren’t afraid to take on negligent nursing homes and their team of lawyers. We’ll fight for your rights so you can focus on your family. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (877) 333-1000.