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Choosing the Right Nursing Home

When a family member begins to need a nursing home, most families have a hard decision ahead of them. While we all hope to take care of these loved ones when the day comes, more likely than not, you cannot. The reality of caring for an elderly person includes many hardships that require professional, medical attention provided by trained doctors, nurses, and other staff members. Nursing homes facilities that provide this around the clock medical attention on a permanent basis for individuals needing constant care become necessary.

For many, nursing homes are the answer. However, with stories of elder abuse, malpractice, and other unfortunate happenings, some families hesitate to admit members into nursing home facilities. The AARP says that families should stay cautious when selecting which nursing home to place their loved one in. Advocate for your loved one by asking facilities and yourself the right questions.

The AARP interviewed a panel of experts in nursing home care as well as former nursing home workers. They asked what families should consider when selecting a nursing home. According to the panel, here are some questions.

How does the food look and taste?

Food is an essential necessity in every human being’s life. According to the panel, check out the quality of the food served at a nursing home and the quantity of food served to each resident. This demonstrates the quality of nutrition care placed for each resident. Also, family members should ask nursing home facilities about the kitchen’s ability to cook to a resident’s special eating needs.

 What sounds do you hear?

The AARP panel states that hearing residents yell “help” as well as moaning should not discourage families from placing their loved one in that specific facilities. These sounds are usually the result of resident suffering from dementia or other mental infirmities. However, important red flag sounds include the way nursing home staff speak to residents. Because of the generation of elderly people in nursing homes, staff should refer to residents by their names such as “Mr.” or “Mrs. So-and-So” rather than “Mama” or “Grandma.” The question of what residents want to be called should be handled at the time of admittance into the nursing home by advising staff of what the resident would like to be called.

 What does it smell like?

Nursing homes tend to be filled with various smells due to patient medication as well as patient accidents. However, these smells should not be ones of concern. Instead, the panel warns against the smell of stale urine. This smell indicates that the facility is not clean and not properly maintained.

Does the staff appear to be overworked or overextended?

When visiting a nursing home facility that a loved one may eventually live in, it is important to speak with the staff of the facility. Questions to ask the staff include how much overtime they work and how often do they pull double shifts. If staff members answer “a lot” to either of these questions, is it likely that the facility is short staffed and may not be able to provide exceptional patient care.

What activities are offered for residents at the facility?

According to the AARP panel, a quality nursing home should have a calendar with daily activities for residents to participate in. Seeing residents in common areas interacting with one another, hanging around the reception desk, or watching visitors come and go from the front doors is a good sign. It shows that residents are active rather than tucked into their rooms alone.

How does the nursing home staff interact with one another?

This is an easy observation to make while touring a facility. Are the staff members kind to one another? If they do not treat each other with respect, these staff members will not treat the residents with respect.

Other Observations

Aside from these six questions that are answered through observation of the facility, caretakers should also ask questions specifically to the facility. Some of these questions include:

  • Is the facility Medicare and Medicaid certified?
  • Is the nursing home licensed by the state?
  • Is the nursing home’s administrator licensed?
  • Does the home conduct background checks on all staff members?
  • What trainings do staff members go through in regards to properly caring for residents? These trainings can include abuse prevention and other special training.
  • What is the visiting policy of the home?
  • How does the facility handle residents falling?
  • Do any current residents have bedsores?

By being vigilant when researching and visiting nursing home facilities, families can ensure a happy and long life for their loved ones.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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