Tips for Selecting a Safe Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one is a critical decision. It can also be a complex one.

In order to make a well-informed choice, family members should take time to consider the best place for a loved one. At times, a nursing home facility is the most appropriate or only option for a loved one. As such, family members who are considering a nursing home for a family member, should be prepared to invest themselves in researching the best available options out there.

Indeed, learning about nursing homes may involve many of the same considerations that go into thinking about regular health care practices. In many ways, a nursing home should be likened to a normal health care provider. This is especially the case after the COVID-19 pandemic when New York experienced its own controversy over the care of nursing home residents.

Always be mindful of the following: No nursing home is the same.

Some nursing homes are skilled nursing facilities, and some are referred to as acute rehab facilities or sub acute rehab facilities. A skilled nursing facility provides standard medical care. It might also provide certain rehabilitation services (like physical therapy) or perhaps even long-term care. Generally speaking though, nursing homes almost always provide some degree of medical care for older adults.

When thinking about whether to move a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility you should carefully assess what kind of care is offered at that particular place. After all, caring for patients who have Alzheimer’s is radically different from caring for patients who do not suffer from Alzheimer’s but may have significant physical limitations. Therefore, it is critical that you locate the right place for your loved one given that the quality of care and their quality of life could be very different depending on which nursing home you choose.

In many instances, older adults are often moved to a nursing home after a hospital stay.  Once you are informed that your loved one will need to be transferred to a nursing home following a hospital stay or medical procedure, it is important to begin the search for a nursing home, using a nursing home checklist.

Some of the most important things to consider when evaluating a nursing home is to see what nursing home staff says at all levels. Nursing home staff can include:

  • caregivers,
  • registered nurses,
  • social workers,
  • and nursing assistants.

Whether you choose to talk to the director of nursing or a social worker, it is also important to visit the facility and/or the dining room during mealtime and be sure to try and engage with as many staff members and residents as you can. This will give you great insight into the level of care given to residents of that nursing home. Be sure to carefully examine if caregivers enjoy their work. If they seem upbeat and happy to be there, that will certainly affect how they care for the residents. If they do not seem happy or upbeat, quality of life will almost certainly be worse.

Lack of staffing is a serious, systemic problem within the nursing home industry and is one of the leading causes of nursing home abuse.

And be sure to examine the quality and cleanliness of the care facilities. One very valuable resource is the nursing home comparison provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Inspect resident rooms. See if wheelchairs are widely available. Look to see if handrails are accessible and easy to use. While these details may seem negligible, all of these factors when added up could greatly affect the well-being of your loved one. To be extra sure, see if the nursing home allows for some kind of care planning where you can monitor and keep track of your loved ones’ care. For more ideas on how to assess a potential option see this article.

You should seek a place where personal care is not only emphasized but practiced. If you are attuned to some of the details listed above (like whether there are handrails, wheelchairs, etc.) you will see what kind of facility you are dealing with.

The Financial Burden Can be Significant

The New York Department of Health offers some key information on paying for a nursing home. Nursing home costs can be $10,000 or more a month! As such, most residents rely on subsidies either from the state government or the federal government. That being said, private long-term care insurance policies are also available according to the New York State Health Department.

Medicare is a health insurance program administered by the federal government for older adults 65 and older. Medicare covers skilled nursing care in a nursing home under certain circumstances for a certain period of time.

Medicaid is another insurance program administered by the federal government for people of all ages whose income is too low to provide for routine health care costs, or whose healthcare costs are too high to be covered by their income. Medicaid covers the cost of nursing home care for as long as care is needed if someone is eligible. For more on insurance administered from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services please see this document. Here is another valuable resource that sheds light on financing options for those considering a nursing home.

The bottom line is that the financial commitment is significant. This is just another reason not to rush into an agreement with a nursing home, but to take the time you need to carefully inspect it for your loved one.

The sad reality is that nursing home abuse and neglect remains a serious problem. The numbers are staggering. One source tells us that more than 40% of nursing home residents have reported abuse. Unfortunately, there are times when a nursing home will not provide adequate care for your loved one and your family member may be injured as a result. Remember, that even a facility with a solid reputation is not your own home. You don’t know for a fact beforehand how your family member will be cared for.

In that situation, you need to consult with an experienced lawyer who has experience dealing with nursing home abuse and neglect. You may be entitled to legal compensation in the event a loved one is hurt while in the care of a nursing home. Thankfully, New York has developed an extensive legal regime meant to protect nursing home residents. The lawyers at the Rothenberg Law Firm have extensive experience dealing with these laws and will fight to ensure you and your family receive the compensation you are owed.

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