A friend was recently given the unfortunate burden of choosing a nursing home for a loved one and asked my advice. Questions about the quality of nursing homes often follow hospitalizations for injuries, as there is usually very little time to make a selection of a rehabilitation or nursing facility. The following are some tips for patients and/or their loved ones in researching and selecting a nursing or rehab facility:
– When discharge from the hospital is set to take place with short notice, it may be important to ask the hospital administration for an appeal of the discharge, which will buy you some time to choose an appropriate facility.
– The social worker at a hospital is often a good resource for information regarding local nursing homes. Be sure to question this person with regard to any concerns you may have.
– Get in touch with your local area office on aging which can provide you a list of nursing homes in your area and can get you in contact with the nursing home ombudsman. The ombudsman can provide you with information regarding staffing, administration and any persistent problems that a nursing home may have.
– Visit the facility you are considering, and do it more than once. Different visits at different times of the day will provide you with the opportunity to see the nursing home during different activity times like mealtimes and medication passes and social hours. These visits will provide you with an overall feel for the nursing home and an opportunity to interact with residents.
– Look for residents in activity areas during your visits and see what they’re doing. This will provide you with a feel for how residents are treated and the amount of attention they get.
– Check out the cafeteria and the food and drinks provided to the residents. See if the kitchen is clean and if the food looks appetizing and feel free to ask for a meal if you visit the facility at a meal time. Often times with the vulnerable elderly, malnutrition and dehydration can be common place. If a meal is unsavory, it makes these conditions all the more likely.
– Consider the various odors throughout the facility. A good quality nursing home should be clean and odor free. While there will be occasion that there will be some odor permeating in the building, it should not be persistent.
– Ask the prospective facility for copies of their most recent state inspections. These reports list recent violations by state inspectors. Once you’ve reviewed the reports, sit down with the administrator of the facility and question how the deficiencies have been corrected.
– If at all possible, try to find a facility close to home. If you or a loved one is unable to stay at home, it helps the transition to know that you are at least in an area you are comfortable with and in an area where you will have visitors and may know some fellow residents.
– Once a nursing facility is chosen, if you are a loved one, visit often. This will help you ensure that the patient’s care plan is being followed and that you are familiar with the staff involved in the patient’s care and are able to monitor that care appropriately. If you are the resident of the nursing home, be aware of your local ombudsman office and develop a relationship with both the director of nursing and the administrator at the facility. This will provide you with an outlet for any complaints or concerns you may have regarding the care being rendered.
Choosing a nursing home or an extended rehabilitation facility can be a very difficult task. If you follow these guidelines and become familiar with the nursing home residents bill of rights provided by Ohio law, you will gain peace of mind and hopefully have a quality experience.