Most people don’t think about skilled nursing homes until they need one in the very near future. Either you are looking for yourself or a loved one and you have to find the best one within a limited time frame that meets a few necessary requirements. Here are three tips to help you on your journey to finding the best one:
1) Track Record – Skilled nursing care facilities are more commonly referred to as nursing homes and must be licensed, inspected, and regulated by a state’s Department of Health Services. Each state regulates and records violations and it is easy to find any nursing home in your area and their history by typing in your search engine “nursing home violations” plus the name of the state in which you live. Usually one of the first five websites listed will be a link to the state’s directory of nursing homes. Either call the phone number on the website or enter your city to pull up the names of nursing homes located there. Click on the name of the home you are interested in and their report will load onto your screen.
These websites are also helpful to find out more about the licensing process, how to report a violation if something unfortunately happens in the future, and helpful steps in planning for long term care.
Want the Cliff Notes version overview? Medicare created a simple five star system for evaluating nursing homes. Click here to learn more. It won’t give you a detailed report like the individual state’s sites, but this is perfect if you are in the early stages of researching.
2) Know what to ask – When you visit the facility keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.
Is it clean?
Is the staff friendly? What screening process does the management use to ensure a qualified staff and to protect the safety of the residents? Do the caregivers work double shifts? What is the nurse to patient ratio?
Do the staff members and patients interact with one another?
Can I see a schedule of activities?
How long does it take to get a response on average when a call button is pressed?
Have you had any violations reported in the past year? If so, what measures have you taken to resolve the problem(s)?
Is transportation provided for my loved one to go to doctor’s appointments? Is it included in the monthly fee or is it an additional cost?
If my loved one needs to stay longer than the 20 days paid for by Medicare, what payment plans/options are available? What services and supplies are included in the monthly fee?
3) Know what you want and need - Here is a checklist of questions to be thinking about.
Do you need to stay near family?
Do you prefer to have a private room?
Do you have special medical needs that can only be attended to at certain facilities?
Are you looking for short term or long term care?
What is your budget?
What can you compromise on and what are the necessities?
Talk to friends who have family members in nursing homes. They probably have a list of things to talk about and look for that you never even considered.