For many families, choosing a nursing home or long term care facility can be a daunting task. And if the loved one to be placed in the home is ill and cannot participate in the choice, a social worker from a hospital may be making the recommendation of which facility to use. In stressful times, families often rely on “experts” to make the choice for them. But with a little pre-planning, the transition into a nursing home can decrease stress and families will feel more secure in their choice.
Look at the Miles
One of the most basic things to consider is distance. How far is the nearest relative? You’ll want to have someone who can look in on the loved one on a regular basis, so this person will need to be in close proximity. Emergencies happen. Items from the loved one’s home may need to be brought in. In the first few days after admission to the home, loved ones may be called upon a few times until everything is settled.
On the Outside
After a few facilities have been identified, site visits are in order. The on-site information gathering starts in the parking lot. What does the outside look like? Any paint peeling? Are the grounds well-maintained? Does the building look well-maintained? Can you see an outside enclosed courtyard for the residents? This will tell you the facility wants to make a good impression and that they are willing to spend the money to do it.
On the Inside
When you cross the threshold of the facility, make sure you had to be buzzed in. The front door should be locked at all times in order to prevent residents from leaving unless of course, the facility is an assisted living facility.
What do you smell? Literally, sniff the air. Are there any unusual odors or bad smells wafting through the hallway? Are there many residents crying out? Do the residents appear happy? Are there any activities going on? Most often there is a large calendar in the lobby of the facility with the scheduled monthly activities listed. There should be several activities per day, preferably one at least every two hours. Look around at the décor. Is it warm and inviting or cold-looking and sterile? Does it make you comfortable being there?
Notice how the staff responds to you. Are they smiling, maybe laughing with each other? How are their interactions with the residents? Are residents simply parked in front of the TV or is the staff openly trying to engage them in conversation or activities? Look at the residents clothing and faces. Are they clean?
Of course, these are just a few of the things to consider when searching for a nursing home or long-term care facility for a loved one. For more assistance, you should consult a qualified elder law attorney.