Choosing The Right Nursing Home
As 1.3 million people in America reside in nursing homes currently, chances are high that you or someone you love will need to be cared for in a nursing home setting eventually. Choosing the right nursing home is not cut-and-dry, and all nursing homes are not created equal. The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days – over two years. With an average stay of over two years, it is important that you select a nursing home that will suit your needs and keep you comfortable. While visiting the facility to get a feel for how the operation is run is important, there are other criteria you should consider when choosing the right nursing home.
Perhaps, one of the most important criteria to consider is the proximity of the nursing home to your family. You will want to either visit often, or be visited often, and you certainly don’t want distance to get in the way of seeing your loved ones. This can be an issue, especially for people who live in rural areas where they may not have many options to choose from.
A more obscure item that you may not have even considered when searching for a nursing home is how and what meals are served. The nursing home provides all of the nutrition for the residents so it is important to ensure the nursing home provides healthy, nutritional meals. Not only is the type of meals provided important, so is the schedule. Will you be able to eat when you get hungry, or will you have to adhere to a schedule that tells you when you can eat? If you have a special diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, you will need to ask the administrators if they have the ability to accommodate your dietary restrictions.
The staff at nursing homes can really make the difference between a comfortable and pleasant stay or just an accommodating stay. You should select a nursing home that makes it obvious to you that the staff love what they do and that it is their passion to care for the residents. Staffing evaluation will mostly be subjective, but some objective criteria you can consider are the staffing ratios: how many staff per resident, the staff turnover rate: how long, on average, do the staff stay with that job, and how often the staff is physically present with the residents each day.
Paying for Care
A stay of any length at a nursing home or long term care facility can be a significant financial undertaking. If you don’t currently have a long term care policy you should consider getting one, but if you choose to pay for your care out-of-pocket you should ensure the nursing home is able to accept Medicare in the event you run out of money. It is an unfortunate fact that often residents are forced to leave their nursing home because the facility isn’t certified to accept Medicare.
When you narrow down your choices to a few facilities and decide to visit them, make sure you speak not only to the administrators but the residents as well. Often, the residents will be the most honest with you about the conditions at the nursing home. Ask them if they are happy and if they have independence over their day-to-day activities or if they are controlled by a tight schedule. Ask them when they ask for help, how often do they usually have to wait for the staff to respond. Speaking with the residents can be the best indicator if the nursing home will be a place for you or your loved one.
Choosing a nursing home should not be a decision that you take lightly. There are many factors to consider, all of which will be important and affect the quality of your stay. If you have any questions about what you have read, or would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact our office.