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Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Pick a Nursing Home

So totally not your typical Homey Home Design post, I know. 

I promise this is an exception and not the rule to what I normally do. I mean post. 

It is what I normally do, kind of. 

Besides being a wife and mother to 4 I am also the Director of Social Services at a nursing home and I love it! As a social worker I help residents and families adjust to life in a nursing home and help them with any mood, behavior or cognitive issues. I've been there 13+ years and I can't imagine doing anything else.

In my time there I have learned a thing or two about what makes a good nursing home, so I thought just in case choosing one may be on your radar soon I want to share a few things.

Nursing homes are one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. There is a rule for everything! This can be a double edged sword but the overall intent is the protection of a vulnerable population.

{As a disclaimer, these are my opinions based on my experience. Use these as a guide but not a definitive authority} :)

What to look for when choosing a nursing home for a loved one:

1. A Private non-profit facility: Why? I've seen too many facilities that were corporately owned where the bottom dollar was king. Money rules over good care. I am sure there are exceptions to this but I haven't seen them. In the end its all about the money. We have had staff come from these facilities to work at ours out of frustration over the way money ruled over common sense.

2. Smiling staff: Go for a tour. Do the staff seem happy to work there or do they appear stressed and over worked? There will always be people that aren't happy no matter what but what is the general vibe you get from the employees?

3. Visiting Hours: You have to wonder about places that have set specific visiting hours. What do they have to hide? Depending on the condition of the resident this may be important but for the regular resident it should be ok for a son or daughter to stop by on their way to work or stay to watch the late night news together. The only thing that is not permitted is the over night guest with the exception being if the resident is actively dying. I will say that it is important to use some common sense especially if your loved one has a roommate. Does that roommate go to bed at 7:30, then maybe you should take your visiting to one of the common areas of the facility.

4. Open door policy with administrator and director of nursing: A great facility will allow access to key personnel without an appointment. You should be able to pop in and ask a quick question or voice a concern without scheduling an appointment. That being said if you have quite a few issues to discuss, respect their time and go ahead and schedule something if you want their undivided attention for a period of time.

5. Residents are well groomed: When you tour take a look at the residents. Are they dressed in normal clothes {not a hospital gown}. Is their hair combed, and faces clean? What is the overall smell of the facility? Out of fairness please know that you will see a range of abilities from the resident in a recliner chair that is in the late stages of their dementia and can't engage in their surroundings {and may be drooling}  to the sweet little lady that wants to hold your hand.

6. Activity participation: Are there things for the residents to do of all abilities? Will the facility staff still take the resident in the late stages of their dementia to hear the musical program? How often are programs offered?

7. Survey results: Every year and sometimes even more frequently, the state and or feds will come in to do an in depth evaluation of everything the facility does throughout the year. They look at everything from peeling paint {which you'd better not have} to the temperature of the food being served. All of this information is available to the public and can be accessed online. No facility is perfect and nearly everyone gets citations. These citations have to be corrected and a follow up survey is done to insure that the regulations are being followed. Check it out here.

There are two great ways to choose a nursing home: taking a tour or talking to someone who has a loved one there. When you tour ask a another visitor about their experience with that home.

Care giving is not for the faint of heart and with complicated care issues there are great homes out there and many options for families. I hope you never need to use a nursing home but if you do make an informed decision.

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm sharing this here:

Between naps on the porch

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