Finding the right nursing home for a loved one can be incredibly difficult. Facilities will all talk about how well they care for elders and the strengths of their particular facility, but it is important to know what the daily life and actual care will be like before making a decision. Some of this information can be gained through observation, some through simply asking the staff, and some through online reviews.
In order to get the best information, however, families need to know what they are looking for.
Key Issues to Know
When looking at nursing home options, it is best to begin with a set idea of what information is most important to find. USA Today has an overview of good places to begin and how to find answers. Two notes they make will help narrow the field considerably. The first is to look at online reviews. There will be a great deal of knowledge that will not be available there, but reviews and news about facilities and services can help focus on those that have the best reputations and the fewest known incidents. Second, ask early about payment options. It can be incredibly frustrating to go through the rest of the process, select one facility or agency, and then learn that their payment options do not work for your loved one.
Once a facility or agency has shown a solid reputation and a suitable means of payment, it is time to explore specifics. This includes observing or participating in a meal service, as this will provide a great deal of information about how meals are structured, what options residents have at meal time, and the quality of the food. This is also a perfect time to address concerns about any relevant dietary restrictions.
Special attention should be paid to how the staff interact with each other and with the residents. Staff members who are impatient, dismissive, or gossiping about residents will likely provide a poor experience for the elders in their care. While spending time in the facility, noting how the residents spend their time will be informative in terms of what a loved one's experience will be like. Residents need ways to spend their time that encourage activity and interaction, just like everyone else.
Issues that come up less frequently but warrant discussion include facilities to handle special needs, emergency protocols, and fall procedures. It is also important to meet with the administrators of the facility or agency. The latter may seem removed from the concerns of the residents or patients, but when policy decisions need to be made, these are the people who will make them. It is good to know who they are and how they tend to make decisions that may directly impact the elders in their care.
It is important to select the best option available to care for a loved one, and this guide should provide solid ground to build expectations upon. Even the best facility may have problems sometimes, however, and it is important to continue being vigilant after the search is over and an elder has been moved into a nursing home. And when those problems include neglect or abuse, we urge you to get legal help immediately to help get the justice your loved one deserves.