Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home: A Critical Choice

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home: A Critical Choice

Originally published on Mar 22, 2017

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one may be one of the toughest decisions you have to make. One of the hardest things for anyone to do is place a loved one in a nursing home. It is even more difficult when the decision must be made quickly, because of a fall, stroke or other sudden catastrophes.

Despite the difficulty, you have to realize the choice is a critical one.

“It’s not like you have a list of quality nursing homes sitting in a drawer waiting for when you need it. No. It happens in a hurry,” said Jeni Coyne, program director of Long-Term Care Ombudsman, a nonprofit that helps Northeast Ohioans resolve complaints about services, select providers and learn about consumer rights.

Here are a few tips to help you if you need to make that call.

Tips for choosing a nursing home:

Make a list

Look into all nursing homes in your area that meet the preferences of your loved one. A nursing home three minutes away may not necessarily be a wise choice if it doesn’t meet your parents’ and family’s preferences.

Use online resources.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offers Nursing Home Compare, which has information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country. It reports on staffing levels and quality of care and links to inspection reports for nursing homes.

Visit as many nursing homes as possible and take tours.

“Nothing you see on a website will replace what you can see with your own eyes,” said Joseph Ireland, administrator at Singleton Health Care Center on East 82nd Street in Cleveland.

Are most residents well groomed and out of bed? Is there enough staff? Do nurse’s aides, the people who provide the most direct care to patients, treat patients with dignity? After the scheduled visits, go back to the facilities unannounced. Watch how the nursing staff deals with patients and how nurses and aides deal with each other.

Jan Welsh, owner of Special Care for Older Adults, a Cincinnati business that offers solutions for older residents and their families facing health decisions, urges families to address expectations upfront.

Meet administrators.

Ask about the facility’s history. Has it been sold recently? Is there high turnover among nurses, especially the director of nursing and registered nurses? Do any of the facilities focus on person-centered care, such as consistent staff assignments and individualized care?

Look at the surroundings.

Do the staff answer call buttons reasonably quickly? Are the residents upbeat? Does the home have activities well-coordinated?

After choosing a facility, the job does not stop.

“Everyone in a nursing home needs someone looking out for them. Everyone, from those in five-star nursing homes to those in the one-star nursing homes,” Welsh said. “People who have someone watching out for them get better care.”

Jeni Coyne’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman on Euclid Avenue has served as an advocate for older residents for years. The agency provides consumers with information about long-term care facilities in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties.

This information was taken from an extensive article written by John Caniglia and Jo Ellen Corrigan from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  They will continue to examine these critical issues in the months to come.



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