When parents or other loved ones get older, they may need specialized or constant care, including that which a nursing home can provide. While the decision to move someone into a nursing home is never easy, finding the right facility can be even harder.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a nursing home, including quality of care, safety, location and cost. You may want to start by researching facilities online to decide which ones you want to check out in person.
Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision for your loved one, you and your family. Here are 10 tips to help find the right nursing home:
- Ask around. Talk to friends and family to seek out recommendations for facilities that have worked for them. Ask about their experiences with nursing homes that you are considering. Seek input from health-care providers and social workers as well.
- Decide what matters most to you and the loved one entering the nursing home – such as meals, physical therapy, nursing care, hospice care or special units for dementia patients – and find the facility that best meets those needs.
- Visit and ask questions. Tour the facility more than once to get a feel for the place and see the staff and residents in action. Meet with the medical and nursing directors. Check out meal time to see if the dining room is clean and the food looks good. Don’t be afraid to ask about what you see or don’t see.
- Pay attention to staffing. Look at the amount of staffing the nursing home has, as well as the type of staffing. Are the nurses certified or licensed? How many registered nurses and doctors are on staff? What kind of turnover rate does the facility have? Inadequate staffing may result in inadequate care.
- Ensure safety. You want to pick a facility that has no or few health and safety violations. If the facility has a history of violations, it’s important to find out how they were handled. You’ll also want to look for things such as handicapped accessibility and hazards such as frayed carpet or other things that can lead to slips and falls, which are especially dangerous for the elderly.
- Find out about the quality of the medical care. Ask about and look up the facility’s performance on medical issues such as the percentage or residents who get annual flu shots.
- Assess the environment. When you visit, do the residents look like they are well cared for and happy? Do you see warm interaction between staff and residents? What kinds of activities does the facility have to keep residents busy and engaged?
- Consider cost. You or your loved one has to be able to afford the facility. You want to find the best facility that fits the budget. The average yearly cost for a nursing home is nearly $100,000, and some facilities charge extra fees for additional medical appointments such as physical therapy or the dentist.
- Look for certification. The facility should have Medicare and Medicaid certification, in addition to any necessary state or local licenses or certifications.
- Consider geography. Try to choose a nursing home as close as possible to your or other family and friends’ homes so you can visit often and also check on your loved one’s care. Frequent visits are one of the best ways to detect abuse or neglect in a nursing home.
- National Institute on Aging – Nursing Homes: Making the Right Choice