It’s a difficult process to leave behind the comforts of home for a professional care facility. But finding a nursing home that offers the highest quality of care, professional staff and needed medical services can lead to significant peace of mind.
As you’re vetting the options, be sure to ask the following questions:
1. Can I take a tour and meet the staff? Plan a visit so you can get a sense of the environment – is it bright and clean or dark and dingy? If possible, bring along a spouse, friend or family member so you can ask their opinion. If possible, visit more than once so you can see the facility at different times of the day, such as mealtime or in the evening.
2. How are medications stored and administered? This an especially important question if you or your loved one takes several medications or has a complex prescription regimen. When managing the medications for such a large group of people, it’s imperative the nursing home has a safe and reliable system to avoid potential life-threatening errors.
3. What activities and social opportunities are available? It’s important to stay active and engaged to maintain good mental and physical health. A quality nursing home should provide residents with a variety of appropriate activities – everything from dance to adult coloring.
4. Can you provide references? The staff is there to sell you on the nursing home and its benefits, so you’ll want to get the real story from a family member of someone living in the nursing home. Contact references to find out what they like and don’t like about the facility. Their responses and insights could be just what you need to formulate a decision.
5. What sort of training and education does the staff have? If your family member has a specific illness or condition, such as Alzheimer’s, find out if certain staff members are trained in that area and how much experience they have. Inquire about staff turnover and be wary if it workers seems to come and go quickly.
6. Can you provide current inspection reports and certifications? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires each state to inspect any nursing home that gets money from the government. If they don’t pass the inspection, they are not certified. You also can inquire with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control about any complaints against the nursing home.
7. What happens if I’m not satisfied? Only after you’ve moved your loved one into a nursing home will you fully know if it’s a good fit. Be sure to ask about whether you’re required to sign a contract or pay in advance in case you change your mind after a few weeks or months.
Selecting a nursing home is a big decision, so allot as much time as possible for your search. You also may have to factor in availability and whether there’s a waiting list at certain facilities. Start with this list of questions and then add specific questions that address your loved one’s medical needs, dietary restrictions and desire for certain activities. By preparing your list of questions in advance, you can easily compare nursing homes and choose the one that best fits both your budget and your health needs.