Erinn Stam is a community site manager at NursingScholarships.org (a non-profit that features financial aid resources for nursing students). She sent us the following guest post article to share with our readers.
How to Choose the Right Nursing Home
Choosing a nursing home is an important decision that will impact the continued health and happiness of your loved one, as well as have long-term financial ramifications. While referrals are a good way to start your search, they aren’t always the best way to select what could be a final home. What works great for one individual might be terrible for another. Conducting your own search with your family’s individual needs and circumstances in mind will lead to finding the right nursing home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Analyze Your Finances
As much as we might wish that financial considerations didn’t matter in a decision like this, they do. Finances can actually play a significant role in this decision as the cost of nursing home care is quite expensive – as much as $200 per day or $6,000 per month. This cost may not even include services for special needs such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Though financial assistance is available in the form of government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, there are limitations on how much these programs will pay and for what services. A significant family contribution could still be required.
Determine what sources of financial aid are available to your family, then determine what amount you can afford to pay from your own sources, including income, pensions, retirement accounts, and savings.
Start your search by looking for homes close to the majority of family and close friends. Studies have shown that those who receive many visitors in nursing homes experience an overall higher quality of life, better health, and faster recovery. If family members are able to visit frequently, they can also monitor the quality of care being provided.
The best indicator of the quality of a nursing home is your own first-hand experience with it. While there are many things you may not discover until you have entered into business with the home, you can learn a great deal about the quality of the facility and the level of care provided simply by touring the facility and interviewing the staff. Trust your instincts when you visit. Ask yourself the following: Are the staff friendly and inviting? Do the facilities seem clean and welcoming? Do you notice any odd smells or facilities that are in disrepair? Do the residents seem happy? Let your senses guide you, and take notes.
Consider Special Needs
Even if a nursing home seems great, it may not offer the type of care that your loved one needs. If your loved one has a special health condition, make sure the home provides the kind of treatment needed. Are there trained specialists on staff? Will you have access to the recommended treatments? Can you get the medication needed?
Also consider the personal needs and personality of your loved one. Some homes provide “person-centered care,” which gives patients the autonomy to determine their own schedules, including wake times and eating. Many nursing homes operate under a schedule, which could be a jolt to a sense of independence formerly enjoyed. “Consistent assignment” means that each patient is seen by the same staff members so that they can learn the patient’s needs and develop a closer relationship over time. Such care can make a significant impact on the overall experience enjoyed in a nursing home.
Finally, make sure you check up on the home’s history of complaints and citations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services collect data on more than 15,000 nursing homes throughout the country each year, and rankings are compiled based on health inspections, staffing, and other measures. You can find this information at Medicare.gov .
You can also talk to state officials to get a history of any complaints filed against the home, and talk to other residents to get a sense of how they feel about the level of care provided.
Overall, it can take a great deal of research and patience to determine the best nursing home for your family. Carefully consider all of these options before making your decision: It will have a long-lasting impact for your family and your loved one who is receiving care.
Erinn Stam is the Managing Editor for nursing grants and scholarships. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about government nursing scholarships. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.