March 6, 2013
U.S. News on “How to Choose a Nursing Home”
Choosing the best nursing home for a loved one to move into is never an easy process. A mix of emotions, financial concerns, and confusion often combine during this time, leading to much stress for adult children and close friends of an ailing senior. On top of that, many have heard stories–often unfair–about poor quality of care provided at certain facilities. What is the best way for a family to navigate these waters? What issues matter more than others when weighing the pros and the cons?
A recent U.S. News story on the matter offers helpful tips for all those going through the selection process. The story notes how the best bet is to properly weigh location to loved ones, cost, available services, and fair quality of care indicators.
Nursing Home Selection Factors
To start, location is obviously a deciding factor–you don’t want to look at homes hundreds of miles away. It is helpful to make a list of all facilities that are reasonably close to friends and family such that frequent visits are not cumbersome. Once the list is narrowed down to the proper local facilities, you should then weigh them on the other relevant criteria.
As a starting point on that front, consider taking a look at this ranking list, which evaluates many facilities nationwide on a number of quality of care factors including nursing staff levels, safety inspection records, and various other quality measures (i.e. percentage of residents who receive flu shots).
Many care advisors recommend that it is only after your family evaluates local homes on these factors that a few trips be scheduled to actually visit the facility and assess their strengths and weaknesses in person. Once there you will be able to ask a wide range of questions about services provided, room locations, meals, visiting opportunities, trips, and similar quality of life details. It is also important to ask about safety issues. From previous research you may have identified some concerns about past incidents or safety violations. That record should not necessarily disqualify a home, but it may be important to talk with administrators to see what was changed in response to any past problems. Some errors are quickly fixed, and a timely focus on correcting problems is a good sign that safety is prioritized.
Finally, it is necessary to serious analyze the costs of the home to understand how the blend of Medicare, Medicaid, private payments, and potential insurance may factor into paying for the daily services. Specialized care is often not inexpensive, and it is critical to have a good understanding of the financial situation before making any final decisions. These money matters are often confusing, and so consider contacting experts who are familiar with these issues to explain your options.