Eight Tips (and Seven Sources) to Choosing Your Nursing Home

 


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“I knew the day was coming. But it always seemed like it was further away than today. I’ve made up my mind and have decided on my new, future home. I’m glad I followed all of those tips that I saved from that article I read. I’ve made a good choice. "

The above is a fictionalized account of an event that occurs everyday. Isn’t this the conversation you want your loved one to have on the day they move into their new home? Will this be the way it sounds? It will be if you plan ahead, make informed choices and follow a few easy tips.

Finding a good nursing home for your loved one is not much different than finding one for yourself. As a matter of fact, the conversation you just read, might just be you talking to yourself one day. While there are probably many steps to the search, the first step might be to look for a future nursing home like you were going to move there. Be selfish. Think about yourself and the things you would choose about a home. It will prepare you for when it comes time to choose a home for those closest to you; who can no longer care for themselves.

Depending upon when you need to make the choice, get as much information as you can, as soon as you can. You are reading this article. This is another step to the search. The choice you make is not only important for your loved one, but for yourself. Look at everything as if you were choosing for yourself. Your happiness has to be considered too.

Here are seven sources of where to find an ideal home. You might think of others:

1. Your loved one’s friends
2. Your loved one’s doctor
3. Agencies in your area that care for the aging
4. The Internet
5. Social workers or staff at your local hospital
6. Magazine or newspaper ads
7. The local long-term care ombudsman. This individual is as an advocate for residents of any adult care facility. They visit homes on a regular basis, and since they do, they’re able to observe the conditions of a particular location, and the care the residents receive. To find one in the U. S. , call 1-800-677-1116. (This is the Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator. Ask for the local ombudsman program. )

Your loved one’s friends are probably the best source of information, since they either are already in a nursing home or are considering one. Check the agencies in your area who already care for the aged as they often have deficiency reports that are filed when a home does not meet area standards or conditions. Check these out carefully - they will contain other things to look for that you had not considered. Some areas have these reports on the Internet, so do a search there too.

You may have seen an advertisement and thought you had found the answer to the nursing home problem. Maybe. Look at the ad closely. If it is in the newspaper or a regional magazine, tear it out if you can. What appeals to you about this advertisement; about this home? Use the advertisement to start a check list of things to consider. Does it mention the size of the rooms? What about the size of the bathroom? Are all rooms handicap enabled? Are rooms shared or single? What about activities for residents? Is smoking allowed everywhere or just in designated places? You are getting the idea. Put it all on the check list.

Now that you have started a check list, you need to make some home visits. This is another step and it is very important. Remember that each home is a business and all businesses are trying to reduce costs where they can. One of the major ways is by hiring staff that is under skilled or where a background check is not as thorough as it should be. Staff that is not properly trained could cause your loved one more harm than good. Talk to the workers and ask questions like, “Where would you rather work if you did not work here?" Write down the answer - it might give you clues about where else to look for the new home. Can you share a meal with the residents? This will tell you if the food quality is top notch. Do you like it? Would you like to eat this every day? Remember you are choosing this home as if you were choosing for yourself.

How far from where you live is the future home? Is it close enough for friends and you to visit without spending a lot of money on gas and driving? Is it close to or on a bus route? What about other public transportation?

Notify each home you would like to make a visit and bring a flashlight. When you visit one of the rooms, check under the bed with your flash light. Is it clean? Smell the towels in the bathroom - you know that your loved one will smell these towels every day. Do the towels smell fresh or sour? Take a good look around the room - are window sills and curtains clean? Are there dust bunnies behind the door? Check out more than one room. The home might have a spotless room for visits such as yours that is a show place but not the real deal. Is this a place where you would like to stay if this was your next home?

Can you visit and talk with the current residents? Try to meet the people who live there now to get their opinions of how well they like the meals, the staff, and surroundings. These people will give you more information than the other tips combined.

On your check list you should have these tips covered:
1. Licensed and inspection reports are current?
2. Site visit successful?
3. Clean and tidy? What about under the bed, places you can’t see and the sniff test of the towels?
4. Employees are licensed, friendly and helpful?
5. Are any employees bilingual?
6. Are the residents happy with the home?
7. What is the distance from where you live? The price of gas is not getting cheaper.
8. Can you visit you loved one when you want or only at approved times?

You have a good start. These tips and sources of information will help you find the right place for your loved ones and most likely yourself when the time comes to choosing a nursing home. If you discover other tips on your own that are not mentioned here and would like to share, I’d love to hear from you. If I use your tip, I’ll give you the credit in a future article. Just send an e-mail to: jim at selectanursinghome.com

If you would like to know more about nursing homes and receive a free monthly newsletter with tips and resources, I would recommend that you visit: http://www.selectinganursinghome.com .

Jim Fortune is a freelance writer who writes about issues affecting the aged. He can be reached at http://www.selectinganursinghome.com . He is also a business to business copywriter; technical white papers are his speciality. He enjoys time off with his wife, and Kali, Sammy and Ricky and spends the rest of his free time fly fishing.

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