Making the decision to place a loved one in a long-term care facility can be difficult. Feelings of guilt and sadness are often present, despite how necessary the decision may be. But there are many situations where a long-term care facility can provide more help to a loved one than you can – and it doesn’t have to be as grim as many imagine it to be. In fact, there are many wonderful facilities in the US that provide excellent care. Be sure to visit the home, or have a trusted friend visit one if you are unable to, and keep this list of things to consider when reviewing your options. (Summarized list from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Your Guide To Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care)
Things to Consider When Choosing A Care Facility
Quality of life
- Will my loved one be treated in a respectful way?
- How will the nursing home help my loved one participate in social, recreational, religious, or cultural activities that are important to him/her?
- Do the residents get to choose what time to get up, go to sleep, or bathe?
- Can the residents have visitors at any time? Can they bring pets?
- Can residents decorate their living space any way they want?
- What is privacy like?
- Are the residents able to leave the premises?
- What services are provided? Are they the services my loved one needs?
- Can we get a copy of any resident policies that must be followed?
Quality of care
- What’s a plan of care, who makes it, and what does it look like?
- Will my loved one and I be included in planning my care?
- Who are the doctors who will care for my loved one? Can he/she still see their personal doctors?
- If a resident has a problem with confusion and wanders, how does the staff handle this type of behavior?
- Does the nursing home’s inspection report show quality of care problems?
- How often are residents checked on and what is the average wait time if they need assistance?
Location & Availability
- Is the nursing home close to family and friends?
- Is a bed available now, or can my loved one’s name be added to a waiting list?
- Is there enough staff to give my loved one the care he/she needs?
- Will my loved one have the same staff people take care of him/her day to day.
- How many Certified Nursing Assistants are there and how many residents is a CNA assigned to work with during each shift and during meals? (Note: Nursing homes are required to post this information.)
- What type of therapy is available at this facility?
- Is there a social worker available? Can we meet him or her? (Note: Nursing homes must provide medically related social services, but if the nursing home has less than 120 beds, it doesn’t have to have a full-time social worker on staff.
Food & Dining
- Does the nursing home have food service that my loved one would be happy with and can they provide for special dietary needs?
- Does the nursing home provide a pleasant dining experience?
- Does staff help residents eat and drink at mealtimes if needed?
- Are there options and substitutes available if they don’t like a particular meal?
- Is my loved one’s primary language spoken by staff that will work directly with them? If not, is an interpreter available to help them communicate their needs?
- Does the nursing home provide a safe environment? Is it locked at night?
- Will my loved one’s personal belongings be secure in their room?
- Do residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy? Does the facility help make arrangements to see specialists? (Note: Nursing homes must either provide treatment, or help make appointments and provide transportation to see a specialist.)
- Is there a screening program for vaccinations, like flu and pneumonia? (Note: Nursing homes are required to provide flu shots each year, but residents have the right to refuse if they don’t want the shot, have already been immunized during the immunization period, or if the shots are medically contraindicated.)
- Is there an arrangement with a nearby hospital for emergencies and can personal doctors care for my loved one at that hospital?
Licensing & Certification
- Is the nursing home and current administrator licensed in my loved one’s state? (Have they met certain state or local government agency standards?)
- Is the nursing home Medicare- and/or Medicaid-certified? (Note: “Certified” means the nursing home meets Medicare and/or Medicaid regulations and the nursing home has passed and continues to pass an inspection survey done by the State Survey Agency. If they’re certified, make sure they haven’t recently lost, or are about to lose their certification.
Charges & fees
- Will the nursing home tell me in writing about their services, charges, and fees before my loved one moves into the home? What is included and what is extra? (Note: Medicare- and/or Medicaid-certified nursing homes must tell you this information in writing.)
To read the full guide, click here.