5 Things to Do Before Choosing a Nursing Home
Deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home is hard and it is often a very stressful time for the family. The emotions and dynamics involved make the decision on which nursing home even harder. Here are five things you should do (in order) to find the right place for your loved one:
- Get referrals from friends and others you trust. Word-of-mouth is often the best place to start when trying to choose a nursing home. Hearing about the personal experience of others will give you valuable details that help you rule in or rule out a nursing home. Ask around or even request recommendations on social media.r
- Research nursing homes online. You can learn a lot by doing a quick online search of the nursing homes in your area to read Yelp or Google reviews. Also, be sure to use the nursing home search and comparison tool on Medicare’s website—this is often your most valuable source of information. Simply enter your location to view details on local nursing homes, including ratings based upon quality of care, staffing, inspection results, etc. From there, you can make a list of potential homes to vet further.
- Call to ask basic qualifying questions. Not all nursing homes are accepting new residents and some won’t be able to handle health conditions that require special care. Call the nursing homes on your list to inquire about their capacity levels and ability to care for your loved one’s specific needs. Think of this as an exploratory conversation—even if they have all the right answers, don’t set an appointment for admission until you’re able to fully research the other options. Tell them you are still searching for the right place.
- Make an unannounced visit. A surprise visit is the best way to assess a nursing home. We strongly recommend arriving during a meal time. Not only will you get a feel for the environment itself, but you should be offered a free meal. If not, ask. Food quality is very important and should be part of your decision. Watch how the staff interacts with and assists residents during meal times, and generally try to assess whether there are enough nurse aids to care for all of the residents properly.
- Take your loved one for a visit. If your loved one is able to understand their situation, involve them in the choice. Explain the process you went through to narrow down the choices for nursing homes and the details you uncovered. If they are able, take them for a visit before you make the final decision.
Click here to access the Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website.
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