Researching Nursing Homes For a Loved One? Ask These Vital Questions

January 25, 2019

Nursing Home CareThere’s no doubt that long-term care needs are on the rise. In fact, 52% of people turning age 65 will need some type of long-term care services in their lifetimes. And while your loved one may have a wide variety of options in terms of care type and facility, it’s clear that not all facilities provide the same caliber of care. Nursing home abuse is much more prevalent than it used to be, so it’s up to you as your loved one’s caretaker to ensure that they’re physically and mentally sound in the facility you choose. Here are just a few questions to ask nursing home and skilled care facilities when making your comparisons.

What is the staffing ratio?

While the number of staff members a facility has doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of care your loved one may get, it’s certainly a good indicator of how much time staff will spend caring for them on a daily or weekly basis. Other staffing questions you should ask include turnover rates and the day-to-day schedules of staff members. According to the National Statistics Council, 37% of employee time is spent in meetings, and if your staff members have a large number of auxiliary responsibilities, they may be overworked and neglect to give your loved one the attention they need.

Which level of medical services does the facility offer?

It’s definitely vital to consider your loved one’s current physical and mental health before choosing a care facility. Some facilities are only intended for general senior healthcare, so if your loved one does have any serious physical or mental health issues, they’ll likely need a center that specializes in treating patients with similar issues.

Asking about equipment can also help you get a feel for the level of care a facility provides. CMS found that in 2015, retail spending for durable medical equipment (which includes contact lenses, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, mobility aids, and more) reached $48.5 billion, and ideally, the facility you choose should have most of these basic supplies on site. Similarly, the global specialty gases market is forecast to surpass $14 billion by 2026, and medical gases like oxygen and nitrogen should also be available if the facility performs operations that require them on site.

What if the patient or their loved one becomes unable to pay for services?

It’s not a pleasant topic, but it needs to be addressed. If tragedy strikes and your loved one becomes unable to finance their stay, you need to make sure there are resident safeguards in place to prevent an involuntary eviction.

Other Resources

While asking the right questions is essential, it’s also important to do some deeper investigating to determine whether or not the facility you’re considering has had any issues with abuse. Fortunately, resources have become available in recent years that are dedicated to preventing all types of nursing home abuse. There are also several questions you should ask that can determine any given facility’s risk for exhibiting abusive behaviors:

“There is a national registry of Medicare-funded nursing homes where you can find out how the facility ranks and if it has been cited in the last three years for sexual or other forms of abuse. Since few cases are reported, that may not tell you much. Experts suggest families ask about staff training, the frequency of check-ins, and whether all staff, volunteers and vendors have had criminal background checks,” writes Sandee LaMotte on CNN.

Ultimately, even though time may be a factor, it’s better to be patient and take the time required to find the best care facility for your loved one.

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