10 Tips for Choosing a Skilled Nursing Facility

The desire of an elderly person to stay in their own home must be weighed against the type of care they require. A time may come when your parent or grandparent will have to be placed in a skilled nursing facility. Otherwise known as nursing homes and convalescent homes, these facilities are able to provide the extensive nursing care that your loved one may need. Here are some tips to help you choose the right home and elder care help when the time comes.

  1. Staff Matters
    Ask about the staff turnover within the home. Working in a nursing home is an extremely demanding job both physically and mentally. Any nursing home will have a high turnover rate, but a quality one will also have staff members who have been there for many years and seem to be happy.

Staffing during the workweek is usually adequate, but ask what the specific staffing levels are on the weekends, holidays, and evenings. Elderly care never ends; you want to choose a facility that maintains proper staffing even during these non-peak times.

Does the staff seem to genuinely care about the residents in the home? Do they interact with them and talk to them with respect and care? The job satisfaction of the staff will have a profound impact on the quality of elder heath care they provide.

  1. The Other Residents
    Take a good look at the other residents. Ask yourself if they seem to be happy. Look to see if any are actively engaged in activities or games. Are they clean and groomed; wearing clean clothes. Try to observe the nursing home during meal times as well as during activities.

If you happen to encounter another visiting family, stop and ask them how happy they are with their elder care services and the home in general.

  1. The Facility
    Look for a facility that is clean and does not have any strong odors. A heavy deodorizer scent may be masking the smell of urine. Check above door jams to see if areas are being dusted regularly. Look at fire extinguishers to see if they are being turned and shaken every month in accordance with fire code.
  1. Meals
    A quality facility will have dieticians on staff to ensure that a balanced diet is being served. Find out if they can handle special dietary needs. Ask if special treats or meals are allowed to be brought in for your family member. Do the residents all enjoy meals together in one large room or do they eat separately?
  1. Activities
    Regular activities are important for people of all ages, including the elderly. Find out if they have an activity director. If not, ask how they handle having regular activities for the residents. Find out if outdoor activities are included as well as indoor options.
  1. Experience
    Find out if there are people on staff who are experienced in elder care nursing and can handle your loved one’s condition. Whether the concern is diabetes or Alzheimer’s, you want to know that there are people in the home who are familiar with the condition and will be able to help manage it.
  1. Licensing Requirements
    Ask to see the licenses held by the facility. Choose one that has all required state licenses. Find out what the state requirements regarding the ratio of staff members to clients and then make sure the home you choose consistently maintains that ratio.
  1. Location
    The location you choose is extremely important. You want to choose one that is close to home so it will be more convenient for you to visit. Choosing one that is nearby can also make it easier to bring your loved one home for holiday visits and other special occasions. Location should not be the only deciding factor, but it should definitely be kept in mind.
  1. Check for Complaints and Violations
    Violations of state code become public record. Don’t just look at the number of violations; look to see what they are for. Violations can range from a minor housekeeping issue to serious issues of abuse or neglect. Check into the facility’s record before making any final decisions.
  1. Surprise Visit
    Any nursing home worth using will be willing to let you drop in for a visit. If they require that you schedule a visit days or weeks in advance, ask them why they require that much notice. Visiting at the last minute will provide you with a solid glimpse of how clean the facility normally is, how it usually operates, and what level of elder health care they are providing.

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