This is a guest post by Alan Brady.
When I first began searching for a nursing home, I knew it might be a long and difficult process to locate a facility that would offer the level of care that I required. My grandmother was becoming one of the nearly 3 million Americans that lived in a nursing home, and I was determined that she receive the best.
Why You Need to Screen Nursing Homes
As you begin your search for the perfect nursing home for your loved ones, you should be aware that not all facilities are created equal. As the son of a nursing home employee, I know better than most that some nursing homes provide inefficient care that can easily lead to neglect or abuse. This article should hopefully guide you to a nursing home that will foster a safe environment.
The First Step: Compare Nursing Homes
You should never settle for the first facility that you look into. Instead you should look into at least 5 different nursing facilities in your area. Before you choose which nursing homes you want to visit, you can compare the nursing homes online.
- Nursing Home Compare is a service offered by Medicare. You can enter your zip code to view all of the nursing facilities available in your area. The web page compares how well the facilities cater to their patient’s needs, how many staff members they have, and how the facilty fared during the last health inspection.
- Every state has an Ombudsman that keeps track of the complaints made against facilities. You can access your state’s Ombudsman to find out what complaints were made and how they were resolved. The Ombudsman also tracks how long the facility has been operating and when the last health inspection took place.
The Second Step: Reviewing the Facility in Person
Never agree on a facility sight unseen. The nursing home that you ultimately choose will be responsible for providing your family member with the care you are no longer capable of providing, so you need to set aside a few hours to tour the facility. If your loved one is physically and mentally capable, you might want to involve them in the decision.
While there you should talk to the managers, nurses, nurses’ assistants, and the residents to get a sense of the facility. You might want to ask some of the employees whether or not they would leave their parents or grandparents in the facility. If their answer is no, you may want to do more digging to discover why.
Here are some things to look out for when touring the facility. The facility should:
- Be clean and well-maintained. An unclean facility could lead to an increased chance of illness. A facility that is in disrepair could offer hazards that could hurt your family member.
- Have enough staff to see to all of your loved one’s needs. A facility that does not have enough employees may overwork their current employees. The National Center on Elder Abuse found that facilities that overworked their employees were more likely to have a higher risk of elder abuse.
- Have a low staff turn-over rate. New staff-members take 5 months to reach peak efficiency. A constant stream of barely competent employees could accidentally injure your family member.
- Should have an abuse policy that all employees are held to. While your family member is there, they are reliant on the facility for their emotional, physical, financial, and medical wellbeing. An abuse policy will make it very clear that there will be repercussions when any type of abuse is found.
- Provide an emotionally and mentally stimulating environment. Facilities should have common rooms where residents can gather to talk, share experiences, and engage in activities. More than that, all employees, doctors, and psychologists that oversee the care of your family member should listen to their concerns and suggestions.
Choosing a nursing home is an important decision. The nursing home that you ultimately choose will determine how your loved one will live on a short or long-term basis. My own search for the perfect nursing home took me a few weeks because I was adamant that my grandmother have the best. By researching the facilities in your area and touring the facilities before making your final decision, you can locate the best nursing home for your loved one. If you do discover that your family member has been hurt in some way, you should seek out the council of a nursing home abuse attorney.
Author Bio: Alan Brady has heard too many unsettling stories from his mother who was employed at a nursing home to ever leave his grandmother in one without doing the proper checks. Even after he found an above board facility, he still keeps a nursing home abuse attorney on hand.