Ten Categories to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

Consumers looking to place a loved one into a nursing home face an emotional, and sometimes daunting, challenge. There are, however, ten areas a consumer should consider about a nursing home before making a final decision.

1. The Basics

Is the nursing home Medicare and Medicaid certified? Is the home close by to family and friends? Does it provide specialized services such as dementia and rehabilitation care that a loved one may need?

2. Appearance of Residents

How do current residents look? Are they clean and dressed appropriately?

3. Appearance of Living Areas

Is the nursing home clean? Is it free of overwhelming odors? Is it too hot or too cold?

4. Staff

Is the staff respectful and polite to patients? Does the nursing home ensure that staff members haven’t been found guilty or have a finding of abuse, neglect or mistreatment of residents? Is there a high turnover rate among staff, including administrators? Is the home understaffed?

5. Resident’s Rooms

Are there windows in the residents’ rooms? Do residents have roommates they can choose? Are personal belongings allowed, and are those personal belongings kept safe? Is there a phone and television in the room?

6. Common Area Safety

Do bathrooms have grab bars? Are there smoke detectors and sprinklers? Are all areas wheelchair accessible? Is there an emergency evacuation plan for all residents, including those who are bed-bound?

7. Food

Does the home offer a choice of foods at each meal? Can the home accommodate special dietary needs? If needed, can staff help residents eat?

8. Activities

Does the home have a recreation department that plans activities for the residents? What types of activities are available? Is there a volunteer program?

9. Overall Care

Did the nursing home receive any deficiencies on its last state inspection report? Are care plan meetings held among staff, family and residents?

10. Family Council Meetings

Ask to attend a family council meeting and ask the following questions:
• What improvements were made to the nursing home last year?
• What future improvements will be made?

Consumers should visit a nursing home more than once to see how the home operates on different days of the week (weekends verses weekdays). Finally, consumers can visit the CMS Nursing Home Compare site to view a nursing home’s rating.

Website Resource: http://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02174.pdf

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