Find the Best Nursing Home: Costs and Ratings

Nursing homes are never the first choice for anyone.  However, they are often an extension of a hospital stay, as Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a nursing home.  And when they are the next step after being admitted to a hospital, usually the decision for which nursing home to go to has to be made as fast as in one day.

Lookup the nursing homes in your area to understand their ratings, services and the daily costs.  While Medicare will sometimes pay for as much as 100 days of nursing home care after a hospital stay, the amount of the daily benefit can vary.  Sometimes a few more days are needed, especially if the senior is participating in rehab after a stroke or hip replacement.

Senior home care can also be an option with both hourly and 24-hour live-in services available.  Medicare also will pay for someone to come to the home for rehab, while a senior is showing signs of improvement - Medicare does not pay for long-term rehab in the home.

Learn about what Medicare does and doesn't cover and the Medicaid qualifications in each state too, as you plan ahead for your senior care.

Understanding nursing home ratings requires understanding what can and cannot be measured and rated appropriately.  The starting point is to know that health inspections are only made annually, at best.  The inspectors change, and this is also when the nursing home's staff is on their best behavior.

But some of the criteria in the inspection can be subjective.  For instance, one nursing home administrator in Minnesota told us they have had the same table in their laundry room for 20 years.  They fold and organize laundry on it.  Suddenly this year they were told it was in violation becaue where it was placed could cause someone to bump into it or fall. 

What can be measured, and what matters more, are things like the Certified Nursing Aide to resident ratio.  Registered Nurse to resident is nice to know but not as much of a factor because all nursing homes have a R.N. on staff.  It is the C.N.A. who provides the hands-on care and if they have more residents than they can easily get to each morning and evening, then care will suffer.

Learn about what criteria should be measured and considered in ratings and understand the costs of nursing home care before you need it.


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