How to Choose a Good Nursing Home, Part 1

Many people face the challenge of finding a good nursing home for a loved one at some time in their lives. Often, this is a difficult, overwhelming process, but armed with a list of questions to ask and supportive resources, the choice can be made with confidence.

What Is a Nursing Home?
A nursing home is basically a multiple-bed facility that provides round-the-clock care for its residents who are immobile, have long-term illnesses, have mental health disabilities, and/or need various types of medical care on a more extensive basis than can be handled effectively in another setting. While each state provides specific guidelines for its nursing homes, this is a good working definition.

According to William Reichman, M.D., president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, a nursing home is a type of long-term care facility that generally serves the needs of older people. “A good nursing home needs to be a residential setting with high-quality care,”

Reichman said.

In addition to nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities also provide nursing care, but according to Linda S. Noelker, Ph.D., of The Benjamin

Rose Institute in Cleveland, these facilities have greatly expanded. “They used to be for routine skilled nursing care, but now more include specialized services such as IV therapy, hospice programs, special care units and behavioral units.”

Where to Start
Begin by researching the nursing homes in your area. Noelker recommends searching the Internet for information because each state publishes reviews that indicate possible deficiencies in care identified through state investigations and surveys. For example, weight loss of residents tracked over a period of time or complaints against the nursing home may influence your choice in a facility. Noelker points out that Ohio will publish review results and satisfaction surveys on the Web beginning September 2011.

When visiting a nursing home, Noelker suggests certain basic things to observe. “You should find an attractive environment that is clean and odor-free. Look at the staff and how they interact with each other and the residents. See if the residents are involved in activities or isolated. Ask how roommates are chosen. Observe admissions staff and how forthcoming they are to new residents,” Noelker said.

You may want to have a seat near the nursing station for a couple of hours and take stock of the surroundings.

Is the temperature comfortable?
Do you hear the sound of activities going on — singing, music, laughter?
Are any volunteer groups visiting the home?
Is the smell of dinner cooking in the kitchen appetizing?
Do staff members address the residents by name as they see them?
Do they joke with the residents in a friendly manner?
Do staff members respond quickly to calls for help?
Is the staff respectful of each other, and do they have a neat and clean appearance?
Also ask nursing assistants how long they have worked there to find out about the turnover rate.

After you have gathered these impressions, you will want to conduct a more formal evaluation of services (nursing, medical, resident activities and food), atmosphere, location, living arrangements, safety and finances. A number of organizations, including The Benjamin Rose Institute, the

Health Care Financing Administration and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging offer step-by-step checklists of important points to consider when choosing a nursing home.

Nursing Homes: What You Need to Know
What Kind of Care Is Best?
10 Insider Tips for Picking the Right Nursing Home

Navigating the Maze of Aging
Who Pays for Long-Term Care?
Home-Like Design Make Extended Care Facilities More Livable
Caregiver Center
Aging Center
Personal Insurance Center

May 18th, 2012 - Posted in Medicines | | Comments Off

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