The decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is often filled with trepidation and plenty of questions: Will the facility be safe? Will it be nurturing? Will my loved one be happy there? The truth is that all nursing homes are not created equally, so it is important to ask a lot of questions in order to find a facility with the right combination of care, comfort and safety. Here are five things to consider when choosing a nursing home.
1. What services are offered?
When choosing a nursing home, you want to first consider the special needs of your loved one. Do they need rehabilitation services, a specialized dementia unit, help with diabetes? Make sure that the facility is equipped to deal with whatever level of care your loved one requires.
Keep in mind that a nursing home is more than a medical facility, so you also want to consider what daily services and activity choices are offered to the residents, suggests U.S. News and World Report. Are there opportunities for socializing, getting outdoors, exercise, entertainment and enrichment?
2. What is the location and size of the facility?
When your loved one moves to a nursing home, visits from family and friends are important for overall mental health. If possible, when visiting nursing homes, consider the proximity to the people the resident loves and trusts, says Aging.com. Tour the area around the facility to see if there are places nearby that residents can visit, like shopping centers, parks and restaurants.
In addition to location, talk to your loved one about whether he or she would appreciate a bigger facility with more opportunities for socialization, or a smaller nursing home that may not have as many amenities, but will be a more intimate environment.
3. What safety measures are in place?
Ask the staff what kinds of safety measures are in place. Is there a security guard on the premises? What are the rules about visitors? What is the screening process for people who work and volunteer in the nursing home? Do they have a security camera system in place in the facility and are they regularly monitored? Even if there is a security camera system for the interior and exterior of the building, ask if it is possible to install a WiFI security camera in your loved one’s apartment or room with a feed that you can monitor.
4. Does the nursing home have a history of violations?
Research the reputation of the homes you are considering using the Medicare website. There you can find reports on nursing homes, which give each home a starred rating based on things such as violations and health inspections. You can also access each facility’s full report to get details on any past issues.
5. What information can you get about the staff?
The staff are the heart of any nursing home. A happy, motivated and well-trained staff are more likely to provide better care than an overworked, disaffected staff. Ask how long key staff members like the director, head of food services and the nursing team have worked at the facility. Frequent turnover might mean that there is a problem at the facility, says the National Institute on Aging. Use the Nursing Home Compare tool on the Medicare website to check the staff ratio. A higher staff to patient ratio can signal an overworked and overstressed staff.
Choosing to move a loved one into a nursing home is a hard enough decision on its own, you don’t want to worry about whether the facility you choose is the right fit. Asking questions about services offered, location and size, security measures, reputation and staff will help you assess whether a particular nursing home is the right fit for you and your loved one.