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Tips and Tricks for Nursing Care Selection

Posted Jun 23 2009 6:55pm
Selecting nursing care is a little bit like dating. It’s daunting, not always fun and who knows if the meal you might get out of it will be any good.

According to the Five-Star Quality Rating System was created to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and help identify areas to ask questions about along the way. This rating system is based the result of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA '87), a nursing home reform law, and more recent quality improvement campaigns such as the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes, a coalition of consumers, health care providers, and nursing home professionals.

Nursing homes vary in the quality of care and services they provide to their residents. The experts say, some of the most important things to do are to visit the nursing homes under consideration and keep in mind the differences in how the inspection process varies from state to state, even though the standards are generally the same across the country. There are differences in state licensing requirements that affect quality, and in state Medicaid programs that pay for much of the care in nursing homes.

Other tips include looking at the overall number of staff compared to the number of residents and how many of the staff are trained nurses. Quality is generally better in nursing homes that have more staff who work directly with residents. It is important to ask nursing homes about their staff levels, the qualifications of their staff, and the rate at which staff leave and are replaced.

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Dan Frith, Attorney and featured Blawgger recommends that families and individuals look out for nursing homes requiring that a family member signs the Admission Contract as a "Responsible Party." The Nursing Home Reform Law (Section 483.12(d)(2) of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations) prohibits a nursing home from requiring a family member or friend to become financially liable for nursing home expenses of the resident, Frith states, adding, that the signature of a family member or friend can only be required when the individual is signing on the resident's behalf. In other words, the signature of a family member or friend can only be required when they are signing as "power of attorney," "guardian," or "conservator," for the resident.

We know how important, delicate and confusing it can be to select a care facility that loved ones can call home. Through the bevy of resources available to us, a little handy work in connecting the dots and looking out for each other, perhaps together we can find care that adequately fits the needs of our aging community and at the very least, make a new friend along the way.
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