When an aging parent or relative develops a serious medical condition that that requires care 24 hours a day, home care if often no longer a sustainable option.
Deciding to move a parent to a nursing home is always a tough decision for a family to make. The best time to start is before your loved one reaches this critical stage. Gathering information and doing your research early will help you to make the best decision during a time of great stress.
Most nursing homes offer several types of care. A thorough understanding of your relative’s medical situation will help you anticipate the level of care required.
Start with the phonebook to compile a list of facilities in the area. Request brochures and check their Web sites to determine those that can offer the level of care necessary. After you’ve eliminated facilities that don’t offer provide the services your loved one needs, carefully assess the remaining options. A GAO study in 1999 reported that at that time about one nursing home in four is cited for serious deficiencies. A new report called Nursing Homes: Business as Usual appears in the September 2006 issue of Consumer Reports, and it concludes that the situation hasn’t improved much. Don’t let this scare you! There are many excellent nursing homes out there. With thorough research and a clear head, you can find the right facility. Here are some things you can do before you actually visit a home:
- Ask friends, neighbors, local clergy, doctors, nurses and social workers what they know about the nursing homes on your list.
- If the nursing home is Medicare/Medicaid certified, check its record.
- Consult the Consumer Reports Quality Monitor
When you’ve gathered all the off-site information you can, it’s time for a visit.
- Go to the home more than once at different times of day. Make at least one unannounced visit.
- Look for obvious problems first. Does it smell bad? Does it look dirty or shabby? A cheerless or depressing environment will affect the mental well-being of residents.
- During your visits, chat with as many employees and residents as you can.
- Make a weekend visit when residents are likely to have visitors. A chat with a family member of a current resident can provide a goldmine of real information.
- Ask to see the home’s state inspection survey. This should always be readily accessible. Be alert if it’s not.
- Look for accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Since January 2006, JCAHO’s inspections have been unannounced.
- Ask about changes in top-level staff. It’s a good indication of stable leadership if the nursing home administrator and director of nursing have held their positions for several years.
When you’ve finalized your “short list” of facilities, it’s time to look at the money issues. The most common payment options are discussed in this article on long-term care Nursing home care is expensive so you’ll want to ensure that your parent is getting the most of every care dollar.