How Do I Choose the Best Nursing Home for My Parent?

How do I pick the right nursing home for my parent?

Choosing the Best Nursing Home:
A Guide to Making Informed Decisions

Introduction

Choosing the best nursing home for a parent is hard. Before driving yourself crazy, you must first accept that no nursing home is perfect! Further, admissions to rehabilitation facilities are oftentimes required by a treating doctor, so you cannot feel guilty for admitting a parent or loved one if they require 24 hour nursing care. You simply cannot provide that level of care in a private home, or some sort of lower level care facility, like an assisted living center. As much as we hate the idea, sometimes, a nursing home residency is required.

There is a big difference between good facilities and bad ones. As nursing home abuse attorneys, our lawyers see the devastating results of sub-standard care provided by bad nursing homes. So you should absolutely follow the below advice in trying to find the right facility for your loved one’s underlying health conditions.

If you are looking to find the best nursing home in your area, there are a few things you can do. First, understand what you are looking for.

It is essential to find a facility that provides high-quality care, fosters safe and supervised care, and meets the unique health and assistance needs of your family member. You also want a nursing home that is geographically close to family, so your loved one can receive random visits to keep staff on their toes.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best nursing home, covering key factors to consider, steps to take, and questions to ask during the selection process. By following these guidelines, you can make an informed decision and ensure a positive living experience for your loved one.

Selecting the best nursing home in your area depends on your parent's needs.

What Kind of Care & Assistance Does Your Loved One Need in the Nursing Home?

Everyone goes into skilled nursing because they need help. So first, ask yourself, what kind of help does my parent need in the facility? Consider factors such as the level of medical care required, specialized services, proximity to family and friends, dietary needs, cultural preferences, and social activities.

Not all facilities offer the same unique care assistance. For example, if your loved one has a trach, make sure the facility specializes in trach care. If they are prone to wandering at night, ask admissions what special precautions the facility utilizes to prevent elopement.

Make sure the facility fits your loved one’s special needs.

Research and Gather Information on the Best Nursing Homes in Your Area

Conduct thorough research by utilizing online and in-person resources available.

Speak With the Right People to Gauge Nursing Home Quality 

Consult healthcare professionals, hospital social workers, and trusted advisors for recommendations. Ask the people in the industry, ‘where would you put your Mom?’ You can also retain a Geriatric Care Manager to advise on placement.

Consult the Right Online Sources to Find the Best Nursing Home 

Use online directories, Google reviews, Yelp reviews, state regulatory websites, and consumer advocacy organizations to gather information about nursing homes in your desired location. Pay attention to licensing, accreditation, inspection reports, and complaints history to gauge the quality of care.

A good start would be to visit the NursingHomeCompare website and read about the facility’s star ratings. Remember, star ratings are not definitive, and operators have learned how to ‘beat the system’ to get underserved high marks from Medicare. Do not exclusively make your decision based on a 5 star rating from CMS.

Visit and Assess Nursing Homes

There is simply no high-tech replacement for physically visiting a nursing home and gauging the impression you get while on site.

Schedule visits to the shortlisted nursing homes to gain firsthand experience and assess their suitability. Observe the staffing, cleanliness, ambiance, and general atmosphere of the facility. Interact with staff members and residents to gauge their friendliness, attentiveness, and overall satisfaction. Evaluate the amenities, living spaces, safety measures, and accessibility features to ensure they align with the individual’s needs.

Do not be distracted by marble floors or pretty chandeliers. Make sure that they have enough staff on site to care for the residents.

Staffing to Resident Ratios are Critical

Staffing is the primary factor in determining good nursing home outcomes. It is well accepted in the industry that understaffed nursing homes cause significantly more injury and wrongful death than appropriately staffed facilities.

During your on-site visit, ask ‘how many staff members work per shift, and how many patients are they watching?’

Observe the hallways and common areas. Are residents being supervised and attended to? Or does the facility seem like a ghost town, other than the marketing person assigned to sell you.

Read About the Nursing Home’s Past Failures

Nursing homes are highly regulated (in theory) and subject to numerous survey inspections. Read the recent nursing home inspection results!

Pay attention to areas such as infection control, pressure sore development, medication errors, and fall prevention. These terrible nursing home outcomes are usually preventable with appropriate staff levels.

These facility surveys and inspection results can be found on the NursingHomeCompare website.

Evaluate Resident Rights and Family Involvement

Resident rights and family involvement are crucial aspects of a positive nursing home experience. Inquire about policies related to resident autonomy, decision-making, privacy, and visitation. Understand how the facility encourages family involvement, whether through care planning, resident activities, or support programs. A collaborative approach that values family engagement contributes to a holistic and person-centered care environment.

Financial Considerations and Affordability

Evaluate the financial aspects of the nursing home, including the cost of care, payment options, and insurance coverage. Inquire about any additional fees or services not covered by basic charges. Discuss financial matters with a financial advisor or explore government assistance programs, long-term care insurance, and Medicaid eligibility to ensure the chosen facility is affordable and sustainable.

Trust Your Intuition and Seek Recommendations

While research and information are essential, trust your intuition when choosing the best nursing home for your Mom or Dad. Consider your gut feeling about the nursing home and the level of confidence you have in their ability to provide quality care. Seek recommendations from residents, families, and healthcare professionals who have experience with the facility. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives.

If you do not know anyone in the area, consider reaching out to a local Geriatric Care Manager who is 1) financially disinterested in your decision on which facility you choose and 2) knows the local skilled nursing facilities.

Conclusion

Choosing the best nursing home requires careful consideration, research, and assessment. By determining care needs and preferences, conducting thorough research, visiting and assessing nursing homes, reviewing staffing levels and quality measures, evaluating resident rights and family involvement, considering financial aspects, and trusting your intuition, you can make an informed decision. Remember, the best nursing home is one that aligns with the individual’s unique needs, promotes a nurturing environment, and prioritizes the well-being and quality of life for residents.

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