Picking the right nursing home for a loved one is stressful. Here are some tips that will help you make an informed decision and choose the right facility.
Write out a list of questions and concerns before arriving. You want to ask about resident activities, resident outings, how many residents are in the facility, how often a doctor comes to check on the residents and other important questions. Make sure they are all addressed to your satisfaction.
If possible, stop by the facility unannounced and take a tour. Some nursing homes will prepare the facility to give a much better impression if they know when you are arriving. Showing up unannounced allows you to see what the nursing home looks like on a typical day.
Pay attention to smells, sounds, and what you see in the facility when you arrive. Does it smell like urine or feces? This can be a bad sign if so. Are staff yelling at residents or residents yelling for help for long periods of time with no response from staff? Do staff appear rushed and stressed? Do staff talk rudely to each other? This can be a sign of an overworked and understaffed nursing home.
How were you received when you walked into the facility? Did someone welcome you or were you allowed to walk around with no one noticing?
Ask for an information package describing the nursing home.
A copy of the most recent state survey of the nursing home must be posted. You should review it to see what types of problems the facility is having.
You can find other surveys and problems on-line. Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare” is found at www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html. You can also look up various nursing homes at www.projects.propublica.org/nursing-homes/. These are free searches.
Following these tips will help put your mind at ease when placing a loved one in a nursing home.