Selecting a nursing home can be a challenging task. However with some fundamental investigation along with a willingness to make several visits to each of the homes that you are seriously considering, you can ensure your efforts will be well worth it in order to provide a pleasant and caring experience for your loved one.
Begin Your Search for a Nursing Home Online
An excellent source of information to start with is the "Nursing Home Compare Tool" provided by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (http://www.medicare.gov/nhcompare). Using this resource you can readily compare nursing homes close to your location in accordance with quality of care ratings, health inspections and staffing information compiled by the federal government. In addition, the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine also publish a Nursing Home Quality Monitor (http://www.consumerreports.org/) using comparable factors that consolidates the information into a listing of the top nursing homes in each state as well as a summary of the facilities that should be avoided.
After you have put together a list of four or five nursing homes with first-rate evaluations that are within your preferred area, you need to make a commitment to spending the many hours you may need in order to visit each of the facilities on your list prior to making any final decision. At the very least you need to check out each home twice. The first visit should be during meal time in order to observe things such as menus, individual choices, attention paid to residents who require assistance with eating and the overall atmosphere. Another visit should be at a different time of day so you can serve the staff and the residents during non-meal times.
Evaluating Nursing Homes
When visiting a nursing home, the following are some of the things to keep in mind:
- Is interaction between the residents and the staff respectful, pleasant and warm?
- Does the facility administrator seem to be familiar with the residents and like to visit with them?
- Do the residents' rooms show personal touches and preferences?
- Are hallways, rooms and common areas clean?
- Are residents clean, well-groomed, and free of bruises?
- Do the residents seem happy and alert?
- Do you notice any unpleasant odors?
- If you hear residents calling out are they promptly attended to by the staff?
- Are residents finishing most of their food? Does the food look appetizing? Are staff members feeding residents who require assistance doing so in a pleasant way?
- Are some residents in physical restraints that secure them to chairs, beds, and wheelchairs? If so, why?
- Do residents engage in pleasant and meaningful activities with others?
Ask the Nursing Home Staff These Questions:
- Are specific staff members assigned to residents on a continuing basis?
- How does the staff ensure that residents and family members participate in care planning meetings?
- Does the nursing home provide transportation so that residents can participate in community activities?
- What therapies are available to residents? Physical, occupational, speech therapy?
- Are the services of a qualified social worker available to residents?
- If a resident has a complaint or problem, are family members invited to participate in resolutions?
- How does the facility prevent or minimize the use of chemical or physical restraints?
- Are residents' concerns taken into consideration when making roommate assignments?
- Why might a resident be transferred to a different room, unit or be discharged? Must the resident and/or family consent to any such moves?
Questions for Facility Residents and Their Families:
- Are the resident's preferences about their meals, baths, and bedtime?
- Are residents' needs promptly addressed, even during nighttime hours?
- Does the same nursing assistant provide care to the resident most days?
- Are residents' requests addressed promptly?
- Are beverages and snacks such as fresh fruit available to residents at all times?
- Are residents' opinions seriously considered and do they take part in care planning meetings?
- Have any of the residents' personal possessions gone missing?
- Who addresses concerns raised by residents or their family members? Is that person's response appropriate and prompt?
- Are there provisions for the resident enjoy some fresh air by going outdoors as much as they want?
- What do they consider to be the best and worst aspects of living in this facility?
Although it can be time consuming, you will be able to feel more confident that your loved one is well cared for. Hours invested in evaluating potential nursing home facilities is definitely time well spent.