When it’s time to find a nursing home or assisted living facility for your loved one, there are many factors to consider. For example, you should choose a facility that is close enough to your family to allow for frequent visiting. Cost is another factor. It’s a good idea to visit several facilities and compare them. If your loved one is of sound mind, his or her wishes should be respected. Otherwise, use the following five guidelines to evaluate the nursing homes you visit to find the best one for your loved one.
Number 1: Recommendations and Referrals
If you know of other families who have chosen nursing homes for their relatives, ask them what their experiences were like with those particular facilities. Family members can give you the inside scoop on whether the quality of care lives up to expectations and whether the residents are happy there. You could also ask the nursing home staff to connect you with a member of the resident council or family council, if the facility has one. Typically, family members of residents organize these councils and hold meetings to discuss any concerns they might have and to strategize methods of improving quality of life for residents. Sitting in on a meeting or two can give you a great deal of information about potential problems. Plus, you can also ask residents directly about their experiences with the staff and the facility.
Number 2: Respectful and Well-trained Caregivers
Ask the nursing home representative to explain the training procedures for their caregivers. Check to see whether they hold professional certifications and whether they are required to pass criminal background checks. Another important consideration is the ratio of staff members to residents. If residents must wait for assistance because the facility is inadequately staffed, this may lead to potential complications. Ask the nursing home representative what the staff to resident ratio is and what the staff turnover rate is. Ask whether your loved one can expect to be assisted by the same caregivers on a consistent basis – which can allow a meaningful bond to form.
U.S.News & World Report suggests observing how the residents and caregivers interact. Do the staff members knock on a resident’s door before entering? Do they address each resident by name or by a generic title (i.e. grandpa)? Your loved one will be much happier in a residence with staff members who genuinely care and exhibit respect at all times.
Cleanliness and upkeep
One of your first clues regarding the cleanliness of the facility is its smell. According to AARP, a mild odor in various areas is nothing to worry about because it’s common for those in nursing homes to experience difficulties with incontinence. However, a stronger odor that permeates the facility can indicate a lack of upkeep and a low quality of care. You may also wish to visit the restrooms and evaluate their cleanliness. Observe the other residents and determine if they are well-groomed and dressed appropriately.
Safety and Security
Safety is a top priority for your loved one, particularly if he or she has a medical condition that can increase the risk of falls or wandering. Look for hand rails, grab bars in the restrooms, fire sprinklers, and smoke detectors throughout the building. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notes that the nursing home should have met the Life Safety Code (LSC) inspection standards. These inspections are performed by fire safety specialists. Additionally, make sure the residency is well-lit. Ask the nursing home representative about their security policies, such as how they prevent wandering in dementia patients. Ensure that your loved one’s personal possessions will be safe in his or her room.
Amenities and Activities
After making sure your loved one will be safe and well cared for in the nursing home, make sure he or she will be happy there. Visit the cafeteria and sample the food. Observe whether your loved one appears to genuinely enjoy the food and if it’s nutritious.
Ask the nursing home representative whether they have ties to the community. For example, students may visit the facility to play the piano for residents, or professionals in the area may give presentations. Ask about activity opportunities, such as outings to local attractions, wellness workshops, book clubs, etc. Ask the staff to provide you with a calendar of events and see if they interest your loved one. Seniors who are socially engaged are not only happier; they may also experience a slower rate of cognitive decline.
Author bio: Jacky Gale writes on range of various health issues from cancer research and senior health issues to nutrition and prescription medication side effects. Read more of her work about nursing home abuse and related medical topics at sanderslaw-malpractice.com.