Whether choosing a nursing home for yourself or assisting your aging parent with the choice, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Location and affordability are often the first criteria, but after you have begun to narrow down your list of potential choices, what other factors should be considered?
Overall quality of the facility and level of care are important factors. Nursing homes vary in quality just like anything else, but choosing the most expensive nursing home on the assumption that it will be the best fit could be a costly mistake. While you don't want to settle for a home that doesn't meet your standards for quality of care or cleanliness, comfortable homes exit in a range of prices.
If you have any special needs, such as dietary preferences or other culturally significant needs, take those into consideration as well. You or your loved one will feel more at home when surrounded by people who value the same cultural traditions.
Plan a visit
After narrowing down the list to a few homes it is best to take a tour or have someone tour the facility on your behalf. No matter how lovely a home looks in the brochure, a tour is a must. When you tour a home, you have a chance to view areas not highlighted in the promotional literature and take in other atmospheric elements, such as smells and sounds.
While a scheduled visit is a must in order to have ample time to take a tour and speak with the staff, consider returning for an unscheduled visit. If possible, visit the home during a meal time and check out the food offerings. If you are present during any activities, take note of the quality of the enrichment offerings and how staff members encourage residents to participate.
During the tour, ask questions regarding the levels of staffing. In an ideal home, the same staff members care for the same residents which encourages bonding and more personalized care. Take note of how staff members interact with residents. Staffers should address residents with care and respect. Before entering a room, staff members should knock and ask permission to enter. Be on the lookout for small signs of respect and acknowledgement of personal dignity.
Make sure to ask residents if they enjoy living at the home. Try to ask open ended questions about what they enjoy about the home and possible drawbacks. Ask residents about scheduled activities, in addition to meal times and bed times. A resident will be able to give a detailed look into what daily life at the home is like.
The fine print
Before committing to a home, review other practical matters including provided transportation to medical appointments and social outings, rehabilitation programs and financial requirements. Not every nursing home is certified to accept Medicaid and private-payment may not be feasible. Also ask about how additional medications such as mood altering drugs or antipsychotics are used. You want to make sure drugs used to treat mental illnesses are not abused simply to make residents more manageable.
Take the time to thoroughly research a nursing home and tour it multiple times. Do not be afraid to ask detailed questions and if something is not clear, ask for clarification. Trust your instincts, you should feel confident and satisfied with your decision.