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Choosing a Nursing Home

Selecting a Nursing Home for a Loved One

We often are asked how one chooses a nursing home for a loved one. This is frequently a stressful experience. The main concern is selecting a nursing home that will provide quality care. The following are some points for you to consider:

  • Talk with your friends and family about their experiences with nursing homes.
  • Choose several facilities that are near your home to tour. Selecting a facility close to you will make it easier for you to visit.
  • Arrange to tour at least three facilities. Tour each facility three times.
    • On the first visit, meet the Administrator, the Director of Nursing, and the social worker. Ask questions. Ask how long the Administrator and the Director of Nursing have worked at the facility. Read the state survey report usually found in the lobby. If your loved one will be receiving therapy, ask to meet the therapist. Ask how each shift is staffed (registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, certified nursing assistance, uncertified nursing assistant). Compare this information from facility to facility.
    • The second visit should be unannounced during an evening meal. Observe the interaction between the certified nursing assistants and the residents. Pay attention to the residents who need assistance with eating. Observe if the residents are receiving assistance.
    • The third visit should be unannounced on the weekend. Talk with families visiting residents. Ask what their experience has been with the nursing home. Find out if there are activities for the residents. Talk with the nurse in charge. Find out how long she has worked there. Observe how the facility runs when the nursing home administrative staff is not there. Observe how the staff interacts with the residents.
  • Use your senses as you tour the facility. What is the atmosphere like? What do you smell as you walk through the halls?
  • If your loved one is a picky eater, has difficulty with nutrition, or is on a special diet, talk with the dietitian about how your loved one's dietary needs can be accommodated.
  • If your loved one has special needs (an example is a person with dementia who wanders), talk with the social worker or Director of Nursing about how these needs will be met.

After your loved one is admitted to a facility, stay involved with their care. Visit often and randomly. Participate in the care conferences. Be familiar with the Resident's Rights.

Attorney Kreiner is available to present group presentations on this topic.

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