What Makes a Good Nursing Home?

Let’s face it, few go happily and willingly to a nursing home. While the majority of seniors prefer to age in place, at home, sometimes circumstances make it impossible to do so. Sometimes nursing home rehabilitation is necessary post-hospital stay. Perhaps a nursing home is needed when a senior needs 24/7 care and senior care costs are too high to hire at-home care.

So how do you choose a nursing home? If you’ve looked at all other long-term care options and have decided that a nursing home is the best choice for you or your loved one, you need to do a little homework to make sure the nursing home provides great care. You certainly don’t want to find that your selected nursing home administers less than ideal assistance. The obvious place to start would be geographically. The nursing home should be in an area that makes family visits possible.

After you have a list of nursing homes in your area, you’ll want to check the quality of care that nursing home provides.

Caregiverlist’s Nursing Home Star Ratings is a good place to start. Ratings from 1 to 5 stars are awarded based on criteria from the nursing homes health inspection report. But because nursing home inspections are only conducted once every 12 to 15 months, we recommend this only as a starting point. The overall Caregiverlist Nursing Home Star Ratings are calculated by taking into account the nursing home’s Medicare Rating (Overall Medicare Star Rating: 20%), Bed Sore Rating (Percent of Short-stay Residents with Bed Sores: 20%), C.N.A. Staff (Certified Nursing Aide Hours per Resident per Day: 40%), and ADL's (Percent of Long-term Residents whose Need for Help with Daily Activities has Increased: 20%). You can then compare the costs of the best possible nursing homes in your chosen area.

Once you have an initial list to work with, it’s a good idea to visit the nursing home. There are judgements you can make only if you see the facility with your own eyes.

Nursing home safety is a primary concern. Is there enough staff to assist those with special needs? Staff-to-patient ratio is extremely important. Do the facilities look safe? Frayed rugs can cause falls. Is the nursing home clean? There should be no odors of urine or feces. Are the residents clean and well-groomed?

What activities are available to residents? Are there social physical and educational activities available? Does the nursing home offer additional meals and snacks? Are there visits from community groups and outside excursions possible?

Is there high staff turnover? That can be a warning sign that staff is dissatisfied, which could translate into poor care.

Are family visits allowed any time (within reason)? No one should have to “schedule” a visit. An open visitation policy means the nursing home has nothing to hide.

Talk to the residents and ask them about the staff, the meals, the activities. Consider what special care needs may be required, such as care for memory loss, and if the nursing home provides these specialized services. Finally, if you see something troubling on any of your visits, your state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman is the primary advocate for a nursing home resident’s quality of life.

While the thought of moving to a nursing home can be stressful for the entire family, with a little due diligence, you are sure to find a safe and comfortable environment for long term care.

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