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Nursing Homes: How to Find a Quality Facility

Posted Dec 05 2011 6:33pm

General Qualities
When visiting a facility, the following are things you should ask questions about and observe.

Patient Care

Be sure to ask about prospective facilities’ staff to resident ratio for each of the following staff types:

  • Registered Nurses.
  • Practical Nurses.
  • Licensed Vocational Nurses.
  • Certified Nursing Assistants.

Inquire about how many hours a facility’s staff spends with their residents on a daily basis and if residents typically have the same nurses daily.  Also ask how often the facility’s doctors are in the facility, and how often residents receive physical check-ups and are weighed.


While visiting the facility, observe:

  • The level of respect staff members give to residents when speaking to and assisting them.
  • The way staff members discuss residents with other staff members.
  • Whether residents seem comfortable with staff members.
  • Whether residents are carefully supervised by staff members.
  • How available water and other liquids are to residents.  Dehydration due to neglect is too commonly the culprit of nursing home residents’ deaths.

Staff Quality & Quantity
Find out if staff members undergo background checks and abuse prevention training; and if they screened for a history of abuse.  Ask to see the facilities most recent state survey as well as past surveys; state surveys report abuses and deficiencies in facilities, and all facilities must legally show them to you if requested.    Inquire about the home’s and administrator’s licensing status, and how often the administrator is on-site.

Quality of Life
While visiting a given facility, ask to see the cafeteria and the food; some facilities even allow visitors to try their food.  As people get older, some develop issues with eating so you want to be sure that your loved one will want to eat the food at their new home.  If your loved one attends religious services regularly, ask if the facility either offers services or transportation to services.  Find out how prospective facilities allow residents to get exercise; some facilities actually offer exercise classes.  Exercise is very important to the elderly as it helps them sustain their mental and physical capacities.  Observe the nursing homes’ environments while visiting.  Are they positive, or dreary?  Psychological health is also very important as people age.  The longer the elderly stay active physically and mentally, and happy, the longer their life will be.


Facility Cleanliness
Observe how clean the facilities you visit are, both internally and externally.  This is not an instance where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; how well facilities are maintained is a telling indicator of their quality.  Ask how often residents’ bedding and rooms are cleaned.

Safety
Take notice of safety precautions the facility has, such as:

  • A sufficient number of wheelchair ramps.
  • Adequate lighting.
  • Alert systems for patients who are at risk for wandering or falling.
  • Bed rails.
  • Computers: Some facilities use digital medical records to prevent staff from giving residents foods they are allergic to or the wrong medications.
  • Easily accessible emergency alarms.
  • Safety rails.
  • Security systems.

Ask the facilities you visit:

  • If special service units are available.
  • If the facility has isolation rooms for residents who catch a contagious illness.
  • What the facility’s procedures are for emergency situations. 
  • Where residents are taken in a medical emergency.
  • How the facility handles residents with a history of violence or verbal aggression.

 

Beyond the Minimum Qualities
The facility you choose for your loved one should first and foremost provide good care, but it is also important that your loved one be happy at the facility; it will, after all, be their new home.  Many facilities offer activities to engage residents and promote their health, like:

  • Recreational activities, e.g. picnics, fitness classes, etc.
  • Social activities, e.g. holiday celebrations, coffee hours, etc.
  • Arts activities, e.g. local music performances by schools, library book rentals, etc.


Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us information to ensure your loved one lives in a quality nursing home. Amber also writes about nursing home abuse .

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