How to find a good nursing home, retirement home, or assisted living center.
It can be stressful times when the decision to send a loved one to a nursing home arrives. Emotions from both parties can be overwhelming. You are no doubt worried about the potential for nursing home abuse, but know that proper planning and due diligence can go a long way when it comes to finding a reputable nursing home for your parent or loved one.
Choosing a nursing home is an important decision. A nursing home’s main responsibility is to provide 24-hour medical care. This includes supplying rooms, meals, medication, activities and other personal care. With the prevalence of elderly abuse being reported in nursing homes, you may wonder how you can choose a safe and caring nursing home for an aging parent.
It’s reported that nursing home abuse is a common occurrence in at least 30 percent of all registered nursing homes in the country – a scary figure. Furthermore, over 50 percent of all nursing homes are short-staffed, and thus are often unable to prevent instances of neglect. So how can you choose a quality nursing home and avoid incidents of elderly abuse or neglect?
Checklist to finding a good nursing home.
- Do you really need a nursing home?
This first step is crucial. Depending on the person’s needs, there are other kinds of living centers and care choices available. Senior centers, long-term home care, special retirement centers and assisted living facilities are all good secondary options. Medicare has a checklist of different senior living options.
- Have a financial plan ready.
Nursing home basic fees include a room, meals and limited personal care. Many nursing homes charge extra for services and other personal care needs. Make sure to plan ahead by listing what services or special care needs your loved one has.
- Location, location, location.
Remember that you are not looking for a home to “sentence” your aging relative to. On the contrary, you are choosing a safe and convenient place that you can visit as often as you would like. Try and choose a nursing home that is convenient in location and close to family. Residents who have frequent visitors (particularly family) are healthier and happier for it.
- Do your research.
Look for statistics of residents who suffered from weight loss, bedsores, pain, infections, and other categories. You can also call your state health department to inquire about the quality of the nursing homes on your list to see is there have been any nursing home complaints. You can look into nursing home reviews as well as discussion forums online. There are also organizations that publish nursing home guides which list important information regarding nursing home reputation. This information can include a home’s history of complaints about nursing home abuse, deficiencies and citations. You could also find some helpful “word of mouth” testimony from other family members that have dealt with certain nursing homes first hand.
- Visit the facilities.
AARP Magazine suggests that concerned relatives drop in to the nursing home unannounced. This visit will give you an opportunity to observe the staff, facilities, and residents. Talk with the staff or the residents’ family and friends. Ask yourself if the facility looks clean and if the residents seem generally happy. You could even ask the administrator (or another staff member) for a short tour of the place. Notice how many caregivers are present and what the ratio is for caregivers to residents.
- Look for a positive social environment.
A nursing home administrator’s goal should be to maintain a friendly and sociable environment that encourages happy feelings and prolongs a happy life. Some nursing homes really do their best to try and add games, discussions, group activities, field trips and all sorts of positive functions to the traditional nursing home. A recent study found that 1 in 5 nursing home residents suffer abuse by fellow residents. Maintaining a positive social environment is key in reducing this type of abuse.
- Medicare approval.
If you are counting on Medicare to pay for the nursing home, naturally, you must choose a certified facility. The fact that the average nursing home estimates a $6,000 per month tab, it’s unlikely that the average person can afford to pay these expenses completely out of pocket. Of course, even if you don’t use Medicare, you should still choose a certified home. Uncertified facilities could evict the patient if the money or insurance runs out.
- Choosing the right fit.
After choosing a nursing home you like the best, focus on if the facility is the right choice for your loved one. Bring him or her in to see if the fit is right. Make sure she is comfortable with the home before making any final decisions.
- Ask for a Statement of Deficiencies.
All good nursing homes usually have a statement of deficiencies which lists some of the challenges the home is currently facing. This is usually available in a public and easily accessible area. However, if it’s not prominently displayed, ask an administrator to provide you with one, and to explain what the document touches on as well as what they’re currently doing to address these issues.
- Take an Active Role in Senior Care Issues.
Once you’ve chosen the right home for your loved one, make sure to visit often and ask friends and family to do the same. Attend special events and sign up for rallies to educate yourself and the community on the importance of providing a high level of care to those who aren’t able to provide it to themselves. On top of that, look for a local nursing home ombudsman to find out what your loved one’s rights are so you’re better prepared to take care of them in case of anything.
If you’d rather try out something different than a nursing home, there are a few types facilities that can work out perfectly depending on the needs of the person as well as their condition.
Assisted living facilities.
One such place is an assisted living facility. These are usually a collection of independent houses that range from 20 to 100 units. These places allow seniors to live independently but still access assistance when it comes to things like getting dressed, going shopping, taking a shower, cooking, personal mobility, transportation and assistance with medication.
The great thing about assisted living is that the individual gets to maintain a certain level of independence. Being able to control one’s environment can help a person maintain an overall positive mental outlook, leading to a better quality of life.
Memory care facilities.
Memory care is another form of providing the needed care to seniors who suffer from memory and cognition problems brought on by chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (among others).
These conditions may adversely affect how one lives, requiring round-the-clock care. These facilities may have alarmed and locked premises to ensure that nobody wanders off due to memory problems (also called elopement). They also provide memory and cognition strengthening activities such as exercise, music therapy, painting, pet therapy, reminiscing, nature programs, baking, trivia and more.
Yet another form of elder care is independent living. Independent living communities allow seniors more autonomy to go about their lives in a way that’s comfortable to them. Independent living usually involves a group of seniors living on their own in communities that have different types of housing. This kind of environment provides vital support to community members since they’re around people who are going through the same things they are. In addition, these communities usually have age restrictions and may provide the usual amenities such as transportation, laundry service, social & cultural activities, and group meals.
Alternatively, you may decide to have your loved one stay at home and get the care that they need by having professionals come in on a daily basis to take care of them. A survey recently showed that if they had a choice, 90 percent of seniors would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as they can.
The familiarity of such an environment plays a large role in their well-being, and can be a huge boon when they’re recovering from various illnesses such as hip fractures. Home care is especially vital for individuals with mobility issues, people who are frail due to muscle weakness or exhaustion, those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and seniors who’ve just suffered a stroke and are recovering. Overall, home care is much cheaper on an hourly basis compared to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In addition, home care usually only requires about 4 hours of professional assistance per day, making it both efficient and affordable.
On the other hand, home care is often performed by one individual at a time, or with no direct oversight. This often presents the opportunity for elder abuse. Yes, you can install video cameras in the home order to maintain a sense of security, but someone needs to review the video on a regular basis. Your loved one may also take issue over lack of privacy concerns.
Doesn’t your aging relative deserve a good home free from elderly abuse and neglect? At Rasansky Law firm, we are committed to being an advocate for nursing home patients’ rights. We feel that choosing a nursing home is a serious decision. If you believe that your relative has already been the victim of abuse at a nursing home, contact Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-405-4313 and find out your legal options. Your family deserves the best treatment and care!