How to Choose a Nursing Home: 8 Questions You Must Ask

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When you read about nursing home abuse, you have to wonder if there are still facilities for the elderly that take good care of their residents. And there are many people who share your worries.

You should remember though that not all nursing homes are bad. But it takes a lot of effort – research and legwork to find the perfect place for your loved one.

Lucky for you, you can use this how to choose a nursing home guide as the starting point for your search. Here, we’ll list the 8 questions you need to ask before you even visit a nursing home facility.

1. Is Staffing a Problem?

If it’s a good nursing home, the administrators and nursing directors would be more than happy to answer this question. They know that you can check staffing data online. And they know that once you visit, you’ll see right away if their staff are happy or not.

Keep in mind that stable staffing is a must for consistent patient care. If a facility is short-staffed, patient care is going to decline. And you can be sure that some if not all of the residents will be neglected.

2. What Services Do You Offer?

When choosing a nursing home, you’re not only after room and board for your loved one. You’re after nursing care, housekeeping, recreational activities, therapy, and so on.

Of course, it will depend on your loved one’s specific medical and care needs. For example, if your loved one has dementia, they might be better off in a specialized memory care facility.

3. Is Your Facility Accredited?

Accreditation isn’t something that will appear on every “how to pick a nursing home” article. That’s because a lot of nursing homes are not accredited.

Of course, that doesn’t mean accreditation isn’t that important. A nursing home that has taken steps to get accreditation is one whom you can be sure provides excellent quality care for its residents.

And yes, you might counter that there are non-accredited facilities that also do the same. But accreditation means they met the strictest standards of care and safety by the Joint Commission.

In short, accreditation is not just for show. It’s an assurance that your loved one will have a higher quality of life.

4. How Does Your Facility Meet Personal Care Needs?

Let’s say your loved one is incontinent. You want to be sure the nursing home you’re considering will change diapers every two hours.

If they have a rule that limits the number of diaper changes per resident on a daily basis, consider it a red flag. The goal should be to keep your loved one dry and clean to avoid wounds and infections.

5. What Activities Do Your Residents Enjoy the Most?

You want your loved one to be healthy. But you also want them to be happy. So aside from checking how well-equipped a facility is when it comes to providing medical care, you should also see what it has to offer in terms of recreation.

You also want to know how the facility encourages social interaction. Do they have afternoon activities for their residents? Is there a recreation/occupational therapist on staff?

You can verify all these when you pay a visit to the nursing home.

Tip: Don’t let them know you’re dropping by. A surprise visit can tell you what you need to know that an hour-long conversation with the nursing home director may not reveal.

6. Can You Tell Me More About Your Care Protocols?

You want to know the measures a facility takes to prevent pressure sores. Do they have special mattresses, equipment, etc.? Aside from pressure sores, you should also ask about the systems they have in place to prevent infections and outbreaks.

Beyond that, you should also inquire about their protocol for falls. Will they call you in case your loved one falls? How thorough are they when assessing fall-related injuries?

Again, you’ll learn more when you visit the facility. But it’s a good question to ask for gauging how knowledgeable the facility is when it comes to care protocols.

7. How Would You Describe the Environment?

Of the questions to ask a nursing home, this one should be answered in a way that tells you if the environment is clinical or comfy or a mix of both. Yes, you want something that feels like a home for your loved one. But you also want something that offers excellent medical services.

The good news is, you can have both if you pick the right nursing home. The best nursing home facilities will be homey and prioritize their residents’ physical health and wellbeing.

8. What Happens When I Run Out of Resources?

It would be great if everyone can afford to have their loved ones stay in the best nursing homes. But not everyone’s made of money.

If you run out of resources, you need to know that the nursing home you’ve chosen can accept Medicaid. The last thing you want is for your loved one to be evicted, especially when they need long-term care.

How to Choose a Nursing Home: Beyond the Questions

Calling nursing homes and asking them questions is only the first step of your search. Visiting facilities is a must if you want to make sure you’re choosing the best nursing home for your loved one.

This means dining in the cafeteria to check the food and observing the other residents. It also means watching the staff and inspecting the place as thoroughly as possible.

Does the place reek of urine? Are the staff more interested in gossiping than caring for the residents? Do the residents look engaged or do they look like they want to be someplace else?

Again this how to choose a nursing home guide is only a starting point for your search. You need to use every resource you have to find the right nursing home for your loved one. Ask for recommendations and keep researching online.

For more articles like this, don’t hesitate to read our other posts.


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