When an older person’s needs can no longer be met in a home environment, looking for alternative living arrangements such as a nursing home becomes imperative.
But finding a nursing home for a loved one is one of those difficult responsibilities that no one can prepare you for. It’s not really something people talk about.
And then you suddenly find yourself in the position of having to find a facility that you can rely on to provide your loved one with high-quality care and ensure their safety, health, and well-being.
Most people do not even want to think about placing a loved one in a nursing home at first. However, it’s not always possible to provide full-time in-home care, and nursing homes may be the best alternative when someone needs round-the-clock high-quality care.
Giving yourself time to research will make this decision much easier. This way, you’ll not only be better able to make an informed decision, but you’ll also have more time to gradually get used to the idea and accept it.
When family members start looking for nursing homes, their main reason is that their loved one has become unable to take care of themselves, and they have medical needs that require specialized care. This means having to find a suitable facility is already a sign that they are in a vulnerable state and rely on others to take care of them.
Nursing homes are residential care facilities that offer a variety of services to their residents, including nursing care, 24-hours supervision, telemedicine for nursing homes, access to on-site medical services, assistance with daily activities like personal grooming, three meals a day, and rehabilitation services.
Some people only spend a brief period of time in a nursing home following a hospital stay. Still, most nursing home residents have chronic medical conditions that necessitate ongoing supervision or care, so they remain there indefinitely.
Both federal and state requirements mandate that a doctor or another designated medical professional visit a nursing home resident on a regular basis to examine their health and monitor their treatment plan. Additionally, the facility will have licensed nursing staff on-site 24 hours a day. Some facilities also have special secure units designed for patients with medical conditions affecting memory like dementia.
Depending on your loved one’s needs, there are several types of nursing homes you’ll want to research:
- Intermediate nursing care – for individuals who don’t need a high degree of nursing care but do need help with basic tasks like taking their medicine, eating, and personal grooming.
- Skilled nursing care – for individuals who need 24-hours supervision and nursing care, as well as rehabilitation services. These facilities can accommodate both short and long-term visits. A short-term stay might be required after a hospitalization for a fractured hip, which would necessitate a two- to four-week stay for physical therapy. Long-term stay applies to someone who is not expected to regain the capacity to take care of themselves and can’t safely receive the care they need in the home environment.
- Subacute nursing units – for people who need more intensive care and monitoring than can be provided in a traditional nursing home like intense rehabilitation treatments and/or 24-hour certified registered nurse coverage capable of treating more acute issues such as elaborate IV therapy or the usage of ventilators. These services are usually delivered at a skilled nursing facility and are only needed for a brief period of time.
Location & Size
One of the most important things to consider when looking for a nursing home care is location. Your loved one will want to stay in touch with friends and family through frequent visits. Maybe an hour’s drive might sound close enough, but you need to think about how it will feel after a long day at work and how likely it is that their friends will be willing to travel so far to visit them.
If you can’t find a suitable nursing home that’s close to you, it should at least be close to other relatives that are willing to visit often.
The size of the facility is another important factor. The nursing home you choose should have enough outdoor space for your loved one to take short walks. It should also not be too crowded and have both activity spaces and quiet areas.
We’ve already mentioned that different types of nursing homes offer different services, so you need to figure out which are appropriate for your loved one. You can consult their doctor on this issue, and they’ll tell you which services are essential to their needs.
While some services are required to address the resident’s specific needs, others are equally crucial in improving their quality of life. The food and eating experience, for example, has been found to have a significant impact on well-being.
We recommend that you visit nursing homes during mealtime to see how the general atmosphere is and if the residents get to choose between different meal options. See if the residents also get help eating and ask the staff how they cater to special dietary needs.
Nursing Home Staff
The staff members will be the ones responsible for ensuring your loved one’s safety and well-being, so their credentials, professionalism, and general attitude are paramount. Spend some time observing them, and don’t be afraid of asking lots of questions.
You want them not only to be skilled – which you can check by speaking to the administrators and enquiring about their training and experience -but also respectful, friendly, and warm in their interactions with the residents. Look for subtle signs like if they call the residents by their name, if they knock before entering and how the residents react to them.
When you inquire about staff credentials with the administrators, ask if they undergo continued training programs and ask how they handle issues like neglect or mistreatment.
You’ll also want to see how long the staff members and administrators have worked for the facility. High turnover rates are a red flag. We recommend you look for online reviews to see how the facility is evaluated as an employer.