FOR nursing home (also know as skilled nursing facility) is for older retirees who can no longer cope with the tasks of daily living. It has trained nurses and caregivers experienced in caring for the elderly.
The services provided by a nursing home are comprehensive and, in addition to nursing care, include: 24-hour supervision and assistance with daily tasks, as well as all meals and recreational activities.
Some people enter a skilled nursing facility as an intermediate step on the way home from a hospital stay. They are there for only a week or two until they fully recover from whatever surgical procedure they have undergone.
These facilities are also used to give a respite to family caregivers who spend their time caring for an elderly parent. The parent spends a week or else in a safe and professional environment where the person who cares for her in her own home enjoys a vacation.
However, most residents of a nursing home live there permanently because they have physical or mental illnesses that require constant care and supervision. This is the case with my mother.
Choosing a nursing home can be very stressful for any retiree, as it was for my mother, who sadly had a physical and mental disability.
Since a skilled nursing facility is likely to be your last permanent home on this planet, you must first plan ahead and consider all of your long-term actions. This was not possible for my mother. She had always expressed her opposition to entering a nursing home.
He had a fall, one of many, and ended up in the hospital. Until then, he had refused to consider entering a nursing home. But her doctor did not return her to her own home, so she had no choice.
Fortunately, my siblings and I had done a lot of research over the past years … as we knew from their poor physical health and increasingly obvious dementia that going to a nursing home was unavoidable.
We had already researched the local nursing homes and knew which one we wanted for Mom. As luck would have it there was a vacancy.
This article is based on our experiences searching for a suitable home for our mother.
Decide your best option
Getting weak is not something sudden. It happens gradually as we age. We become less able to take care of ourselves or our homes.
It was heartbreaking to witness my mother’s slow 5-year transition from a vibrant, very sociable, and very energetic woman to a hunched, shuffling old woman.
Entering a nursing home only becomes necessary in the last stage of this weakening process. In the early stages, you have several options. These include:
- daily assistance from a caregiver who comes several times a week or every day to help you with your daily tasks
having a resident caregiver, often a retired nurse, who can help with getting in and out of bed, washing, dressing, etc., as well as cooking, cleaning, and keeping the house tidy.
- independent living communities where you live in an apartment complex with on-site facilities such as banks, gyms, fitness programs, a hair and beauty salon, a communal dining room, and even a doctor who makes regular visits
- assisted living communities for seniors who need more support than they can get by living independently but who do not need complex medical care on a daily basis … they generally offer meals, housework, and planned activities, but not medical services.
Before choosing a nursing home, take some time to consider whether any of these options might be more appropriate for the time being.
My mother went through the first two of these stages for several years before her disabilities prevented her from staying home.
Steps to choosing a nursing home
When you make the decision yourself, you must have the support of your family and close friends in making your decision.
Invite them to the process of weighing options to help you make your final decision. Our entire family made the decision on behalf of our mother.
Consider your needs in the later years of your life (nursing care, physical therapy, special care needs, religious needs, physical impairment, dementia care, etc.) when weighing your options.
Once you’ve finally decided that you want or must enter a nursing home, here are the three basic steps to take:
Do an in-depth Google search and list all the nursing homes in our area. We asked for recommendations from other seniors he knew and trusted.
Research the quality of the nursing homes you are considering:
Check their websites for the facilities they offer.
Please refer to the inspection reports conducted by the regulatory agency for nursing homes, which you can find on the websites of the nursing homes themselves or on the website of the regulatory agency.
Google the name of individual nursing homes and search for comments from residents or others.
Then list the houses in order of preference, that is, create a short list.
Visit the nursing homes on the short list.
If you are checking out houses yourself, looking for a place to spend your later years, I suggest that you bring a close friend or family member.
Or ask someone you trust to visit for you.
Tours provide an opportunity to see residents, staff, and the home environment.
Before your visit, consider and decide what is important to you: nursing care, meals, therapy, a religious dimension, location close to family and friends, etc.
Call ahead to make sure you will receive it
Ask questions and make sure you get clear answers.
Ask the staff to explain anything you don’t understand
Ask who to call if you have more questions.
Get a copy of your standard contract so you can read it carefully later.
Take the checklist below with you to help you.
Take a second surprise visit to the facility without calling ahead. On this visit, try to arrive late in the morning or at noon, so that you can see the residents when they go about their daily routines or at their meals.
I hope these tips are helpful to you.
My brothers and I conducted all of these investigations on behalf of our mother and, as my mother’s attorney, I made the final decision based on what I knew of her wishes.
I can tell you that now it is a great job and it takes a long time. However, it must be done correctly in order for the retiree to be happy in their final home.
Here is a checklist that I devised to help you when visiting a nursing home.
Nursing Home Checklist
Nursing Home Name: ____________________________________________________________
Date of first visit: ____________________________________________________________
Who visited: ____________________________________________________________
Date of second visit: ____________________________________________________________
Who visited: ____________________________________________________________
Is the nursing home registered with the appropriate regulatory body?
Have you reviewed the inspection reports?
Is there a brochure available?
Does the home have the necessary level of care?
Is there a bed available?
Is there a waiting list?
Can the nursing home provide care for people with special needs, eg dementia, disability, wandering residents?
Is the nursing home close enough for friends and family to visit?
Is the nursing home clean and well cared for?
Have you checked the corners and rugs for embedded dirt?
Are the noise levels in the common areas comfortable?
Is the temperature pleasant in the nursing home?
What are the arrangements for visits from family and friends?
Are there areas where residents can meet visitors in private?
Are care plan meetings with residents and family members held at convenient times, whenever possible?
Are residents allowed to make decisions about their daily routines?
Does each resident have storage space?
Are there smoke detectors in the rooms and hallways?
Are there policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions?
Is the nursing home free of bad odors?
Does the nursing home accept residents who smoke?
Are there regulations for smoking and are they acceptable?
How? ‘Or what
What is the household management structure?
Does the home offer therapy services?
Are podiatry services provided?
What medical arrangements are there?
Under what circumstances does the center call the family or the doctor?
How are medical emergencies handled?
Does the nursing home have a policy on self-medication?
What are the arrangements to ensure that assessed health needs are reviewed and met?
Is the relationship between staff and residents warm, polite, and respectful?
Do all staff wear name badges?
Do staff actively engage with residents?
Does the nursing home background check all staff?
Is the number of staff adequate?
What is the staff to resident ratio?
What is the ratio of qualified nurses to residents?
What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
Does the home provide staff with ongoing professional training and learning?
Menus and food
Do residents have food options at every meal?
Are special diets provided?
Are menus available for me to see?
Do staff help residents eat and drink during meals if necessary?
Is the dining room attractive, cheerful, and comfortable?
Are there a variety of social, cultural and educational activities?
Are residents free to choose to participate?
Does the nursing home offer the religious or cultural support you need?
Are arrangements made to accommodate religious worship?
Does the staff offer individual activities to residents who are confined to bed?
Does the nursing home have outdoor areas that residents can use?
Does the staff help residents out?
Are outdoor trips planned?
What do you do for holidays and birthdays?
Is there a residents committee?
What is and what is not included in the weekly or monthly rate?
Is a deposit required?
Are there payment plans available?