With long term care planning, it is never easy to face the fact that a parent may need extra care to live. A frightening number of neglect and abuse cases surface each year; you want to know that your loved one is in a safe place, which is why it is critical to visit potential nursing homes with your parent when considering this step.
There are several ways to read between the lines and assess the potential establishment's quality during your visitation. Take notes on these factors and take time to talk with your parent about his or her feelings before deciding on a new living situation.
What is the staff culture like?
Keep an eye on how the staff members interact with each other. It can be a telling indicator of how they will treat the residents. If staff members are passive and terse with each other, odds are they will be the same way when attending to the residents. Positive, bright engagements between staff members points to people that enjoy their jobs; and a happy staff means better interactions and care for your parent.
What are residents up to?
Nobody wants to be relegated to a bedroom each day, and seniors are no exception. Desolate corridors and empty sitting rooms are often a bad sign. An active community room, or even something as subtle as residents enjoying a birdcage or watching foot traffic, is a good sign that they are not being neglected or feeling unwelcome. Ask the staff what kind of community activities they offer and what a typical turn out is. Amenities are important.
How does the staff address the residents?
An upbeat, engaging staff is often an indicator that you are touring a good nursing home but pay attention to what is being said. As AARP points out, our elders are a different generation, and may expect the formality of being addressed as "Mr. Smith, not "grandpa".
What is the food's quality?
During your visit, take time to have a meal. In addition to observing staff and resident interactions, you can get an idea of the kind of food that your parent may be eating each day. Does it taste good? Does it look appetizing? A diminishing sense of taste and smell comes with age, but that doesn't make eating unattractive or bland food any more appetizing.
It's a difficult decision when doing long term care planning but giving your parent the care that he or she needs can ultimately be the best thing. You want to see them in a place where the residents are respected and well taken care of, so be sure to tour assisted living facilities and nursing homes together before making a decision.