Choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one can be an overwhelming task. Below are a few things to consider when starting your search.
1. OBSERVE THE LAYOUT AND SURROUNDINGS
During a tour, be sure to look for non-skid floors and handrails. Note if the walkways are clear or if there are wheelchairs and other obstructions in the way that could lead to residents tripping and injuring themselves. Check bathrooms for tripping hazards such as lips on the shower floor or other obstructions which would impede easy egress. Also observe the aesthetics including whether the grounds are quiet or noisy, where there are seating areas, and whether the area feels relaxing and comfortable enough to spend time in.
2. TALK WITH THE CURRENT RESIDENTS
Try to talk to some of the current residents about things like the quality of food, activities provided, and their overall feelings about the community. Don’t forget to ask them whether they feel cared for by the staff. The facility may appear beautiful on the outside, but listening to the first-hand accounts of the residents will be a great way to make sure it is the perfect fit for you and your family.
3. TALK TO THE STAFF
If possible, during your visit, talk to some of employees. Be sure to try to converse with staff in different departments. It can be informative to hear from and speak with people working in different departments and different levels within the community. Ask the employees about the facility, their jobs, and the management. Be sure to observe if the staff discusses details like the residents’ names or interests. The goal is to try to get a sense of the facility’s culture.
4. TRY THE FOOD
Be sure to review the menu, but ideally try to sample the food. Ask about the different offerings and of course if your loved one has dietary restrictions, be sure to ask if those can be met. If you are able to sit in the dining room while you’re there, observe how the staff and residents interact.
5. REMEMBER TO USE ALL OF YOUR SENSES
Stop along the way and note the sounds you hear, such as laughter or music versus silence or sounds of distress. Note any smells that stand out. The facility should be well ventilated and smell clean instead of musty or stale.
6. ENSURE THE ENVIRONMENT IS SAFE
COVID-19 introduced a whole new set of considerations for families looking into nursing home care. When you visit each facility, look for investments such as room cleaners with HEPA filters and the use of personal protective equipment. Federal regulations also mandate that nursing homes have an infection control and prevention program with written standards. At minimum, the facility should have a part-time staff member who is trained in infection prevention.
7. COME BACK DURING OFF-HOURS
When you schedule a guided visit during a weekday, you are likely seeing the facility at its very best. But before your loved one moves in, it can be very informative to visit on a weekend or in off-hours so you can ensure the experience you had during the guided visit is maintained when the facility is not on high-alert.
And if you or a loved is in the midst of a nursing home event and feel as though you may need help in figuring out how to pay for it, please reach out. We can schedule a time for a conversation with a Certified Elder Law Attorney in our office. Let’s Talk!