Geriatric care: Advice and tips on choosing the best nursing home

By following a few simple guidelines you can maintain that your loved one receives the best quality care in a nursing home.

One of the most difficult decisions a family will ever have to make is to place a loved one in a nursing home. Sometimes, however, this is a necessary choice that has to be made to provide constant and adequate care for an ailing spouse or parent. It is essential to take the time to choose the best facility for geriatric care to ensure your loved one is comfortable and well cared for. There are several criteria to consider when choosing a nursing home.

The first measure you should take to choose a facility for care is to ask advice from people you know that have already placed a loved one in a nursing home. Asking a person who has already gone through the process of choosing a nursing care facility can give you a good idea of what kinds of facilities are available and if there are any specific places you should avoid. They may also be able to point you towards nursing homes that fall within a price range that is affordable for your family and provide the quality care you desire.

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Geriatric care: Advice and tips on choosing the best nursing home

You should take the time to visit any facility you have in mind for your loved one. Do not call ahead but stop by for a visit when you are not expected. This will ensure you are getting a true picture of how the facility is run. Make sure to stop by at meal times so you can see what the residents are served and how those that cannot feed themselves are fed. Speak to staff members and ask if they are happy working there. Satisfied employees will most always provide the best care. Find out what the employee turn over rate is at the facility. You will need to consider the occupancy rates for the nursing home. Generally, the fewer residents in the home the more individualized the care they receive. Whether you choose a small residential home or a larger facility, the nursing home and its administrator should be licensed by the State to operate. Find out if the nursing home screens potential employees for a history of abuse and to see if they meet your state’s requirements.

Ask if they are skilled nursing facility and if there is a skilled bed available. These kinds of facilities provide the best quality care available. Often times, skilled nursing care is available only for a short period of time after a person is hospitalized. Custodial care is offered for a much longer period of time. If a facility offers both types of care, ask if residents can be transferred between levels of care within the nursing home without having to move from their old room or from the nursing home.

Find out if Medicare and Medicaid have certified the home you are considering. Nursing homes that only take Medicaid residents might offer longer term but less intensive levels of care. Nursing Homes that don’t accept Medicaid payment may make a resident move when Medicare or the resident’s own money runs out. At this point, if you are unable to cover any of the nursing home costs, you will need to consider how much care your loved one requires and if you are willing to move them in the event their need for care increases. Some nursing homes have special service units such as rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s, and hospice care. Ask if there are separate waiting periods or facility guidelines designating when residents would be moved on or off a special unit.

An extreme concern of any family placing a loved one in a facility for geriatric care is their loved one’s well being. Inquire as to if the facility offers a training program to educate employees about how to recognize resident abuse and neglect, how to deal with aggressive or difficult residents, and how to deal with the stress of caring for so many needs. Ask if there clear procedures to identify events or trends that might lead to abuse and neglect, and how to investigate, report, and resolve your complaints. Also, ask if there policies or procedures to safeguard resident possessions. Consider the quality of life of your loved one when choosing a nursing home. Find out if residents can make choices about their daily routine, such as the time they go to bed or when to eat. Make sure the nursing home meets your cultural, religious, or language needs. Look to see if the nursing home has outdoor areas for resident use and helps residents to get outside.

Another key concern is the quality of care your family member will receive. Can residents continue to see their personal physician? Do residents have the same caregivers on a daily basis? Are there are enough staff at night and on weekends or holidays to care for each resident? Make sure the facility has an arrangement for emergency situations with a nearby hospital. Ask if the family and residents councils are independent from the nursing home’s management. A good care plan is essential to quality care. It should be put together by a team of caregivers as well as family and should be updated as often as necessary. When choosing a nursing home, ensure that care plan meetings are held at times that are easy for residents and their family members to attend.

Consider the nutritional needs of your loved one before you choose a care facility. Find out if there is enough staff to assist each resident who requires help when eating. Ask if residents are offered choices of food at mealtimes. Make sure that residents’ weight is routinely monitored. There should be water pitchers and glasses on tables in every resident’s room. Ask if nutritious snacks are available during the day and evening.

Safety is also an important issue to consider. Take note of handrails in the hallways and grab bars in the bathrooms. Be sure that exits are clearly marked. Note if spills and other accidents are cleaned up quickly. Be sure all hallways are free of clutter and have good lighting. Ask if there is enough staff to help move residents quickly in an emergency. Look to see if the nursing home has smoke detectors and sprinklers.

Although there are many important factors to consider when choosing a nursing home for your loved one, it is well worth every moment to ensure they receive quality care. Take the time to ask for references from people you trust, visit several care facilities and take note of every aspect of the care provided to its residents and speaking to the staff. By doing these things you will be sure to place your loved one in capable hands and have piece of mind that they are receiving the best quality care available.

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