How to Choose a Good Nursing Home

As we age, our minds and bodies become frail. And while we’re still the same people inside, we need a little more help and assistance. When there’s no care at home or you don’t wish to burden loved ones a nursing home is a good option.

The only question is, how do you choose the right one?

Here are some suggestions to make the process go as smoothly as possible:

Make a Shortlist

Begin by making a list of three to five facilities in your area that you believe could be solid options. You may know the names of these nursing homes off the top of your head, or you might need to consult the internet and/or friends for referrals. The important thing is that you have a variety of care options to choose from.

Consider Ratings and Reputation

As much as every nursing home tries to put on a good image, the fact of the matter is that many simply don’t live up to their claims. Abuse and neglect are rampant in the industry. This is why it’s important to review ratings and reputation.

You can find access information about ratings and claims by reading online review websites and consulting local accrediting organizations. You could also speak with a local attorney. Someone who provides legal representation for victims of negligence would have a good idea of which nursing homes are good and which ones consistently attract complaints and lawsuits.

Visit in Person

Never make a decision without first visiting a home in person. Ideally, you should visit multiple times. This will give you an idea of what the conditions are like, how happy the people are, and whether there are any weird smells or alarming circumstances.

Ask the Right Questions

When visiting/touring a nursing home facility, schedule an appointment with the administration so that you can ask important questions like these:

  • What are the staffing ratios?
  • How much turnover is there?
  • How many opportunities are there for residents to interact?
  • How does your facility manage hygiene and/or prevent bedsores?
  • How does payment work in regards to private pay, Medicaid, etc.?
  • Do you have the resources to care for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia?

There are no dumb questions. Take as much time as you need to get the right answers. If the administration is hesitant to provide answers to your questions, this is likely an indication that you should consider other options.

Consider Convenience

It’s important to consider the location as it relates to convenience for friends and loved ones. The closer you are to your family, the more likely it is that they’ll visit. Think this through as you weigh the nursing home facilities on your shortlist.

Look for nursing homes online

Start by doing an online search for nursing homes in your area to get an idea of what your options are. Great resources for finding services include Eldercare Locator, Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Medicare Offices. Doing basic preliminary research will give you a sense of what is available for your family member. Look on the websites of nursing homes in your area to see which nursing homes offer the medical services and attention that your family member needs. You can use this research to compare prices and decide your price range.

Call references of the nursing homes

Call the nursing home you are interested in and ask for references. You can call their references and ask for information on families of residents to get an idea of what residents and their families think of the nursing home you are interested in. If someone says that their family member was neglected in the nursing home, you might want to reconsider choosing that nursing home.

Visit your state’s registry of nursing home complaints

Every time somebody sends in a complaint about a nursing home for things such as abuse and neglect to residents, it is documented and put on file. Obtaining public records varies from state to state.

Figure out if it is accepting new residents

Once you nail down what nursing homes you like, call them and ask them if they are taking new residents. There is no point in going to visit a nursing home that is not even accepting new people.

Call the homes and make arrangements for a tour of the facility

Be aware of the way the staff answers the phone, your questions, and their demeanour. It says a lot about possible stress levels.

Write out a list of your questions regarding the level of care of your loved one

Take your time, think about what your specific concerns are.

Upon entering the facility, note your first impressions

Is it bright? Clean? Airy? Comfortable? Welcoming?

Note how you are received by the reception staff

Are they courteous? Do they immediately welcome you? Give you eye contact? Do they ask if you’d like a cup of coffee or tea while you’re waiting for your tour guide? Are they accommodating to any special needs?

Ask for an information package on the facility

The tour guide should give you one. The tour guide will go into a speech about how “wonderful” their nursing home is. Trust your own eyes and ears.

Be aware of surroundings, Residents, family members, staff, odors, sounds…
It’s all important.

Notice the atmosphere on the units; is it calm?

Are the staff busy? Note how the staff are speaking to the residents.

Look at the floor in the corners

Look at the walls, under beds at the furnishings. Are they clean and well maintained?

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