It’s one of life’s most difficult decisions—putting an aging parent or other loved one in a nursing home.
Although some patients stay in nursing homes on a short-term basis to recuperate after a hospital visit, most residents stay permanently due to medical conditions requiring supervision and constant care. Many of these residents are elderly, and can no longer care for themselves on their own or be cared for by a relative.
It’s important to do research before it’s time to make that decision. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the luxury of time. They have to decide quickly something that could affect the rest of their loved one’s life—especially if that person can’t make it for him or herself. The AARP suggests starting your research early, long before you’re faced with finding a place for someone to go.
Finding The Best Option
It’s tempting to think that the more expensive, fancier-looking facility is going to be the best, but that’s not always the case.
The first step is to look for nursing homes as close to your area—and other family members—as you can find. If you have to drive a considerable distance to pay them a visit, you’ll be more likely to skip a visit, and so will everyone else.
A nursing home resident benefits from frequent visits by family and friends in a number of ways. You’ll be able to keep tabs on their well-being, and be able to better prevent elder abuse than someone who isn’t visited often. Visits also help stave off cognitive decline that can happen with residents who experience social isolation. Emotional engagement with a nursing home resident reminds them that they are loved and cared for, even if they are experiencing dementia.
Even if your visit seems like the home is a great place, it’s also important to know how they handle day-to-day business. Two reliable databases can help you find out if the homes you’re interested in are:
- Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare
- ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect, a website run by a nonprofit investigative news website that contains detailed data on homes
AARP suggests avoiding websites that aren’t run by Medicare or respected homes that aren’t for-profit facilities to find the best information.
You can find out a lot about nursing homes with online searches. But nothing replaces the boots-on-the-ground in-person site visit.
The first time you visit, you may make an appointment with the site’s intake counselor. But don’t announce a subsequent visit. It’s important that you see the nursing home as your loved one will see it on a daily basis.
When visiting, consider:
- Do they have adequate staff for the number of residents, or are they under-staffed, or have high turnover?
- If there are any issues, what has the nursing home administrator done to correct them? (This is from your research, so ask.)
- Does the facility do a background check before hiring staff to work directly with patients?
- Will the staff work with a family member to make sure the resident’s needs are met?
- What kind of activities are available for residents?
- Is continuing education and training something that’s easily available to the staff?
- Is there licensed nursing staff onsite 24/7, and an RN onsite for 8 hours a day?
- How much autonomy will a resident have if he or she is living here permanently?
Observe the patients themselves. Are they groomed, or look as if they aren’t cared for? Are their teeth, hair and nails in good condition, or do they look neglected?
Food Is Important
You may know someone who found it necessary to bring a relative to a nursing home who did not have a good experience. Sometimes patients stop eating, or don’t eat enough, after they transition.
It’s simple: they don’t like the food.
Although nursing home food may be designed and created with proper nutritional protocols, that doesn’t mean everyone will eat it. Think about bringing your favorite dish to a potluck, and bringing most of it home (or throwing it away.) You may be the only one who likes it. If that’s the case at the nursing home, chances are most of the residents aren’t eating it, and are likely undernourished.
This is why it’s important to visit the nursing home during mealtime—more than once, and without warning. If they know you’re visiting, the staff is more likely to offer more attractive meals. If they don’t know you’re visiting, you’ll be able to see what residents are offered every day. Are there snacks provided if anyone asks for them? Will they accommodate special dietary needs, such as diabetes?
Additionally, some need assistance with eating and drinking, so it’s important to make sure it’s provided.
Protection For Charleston’s Nursing Home Residents
If your loved one is in a nursing home and isn’t receiving adequate care, or needs protection, let us help. They may not be able to speak for themselves, or may be afraid to speak up. Nobody deserves to be neglected or harmed when they are the most vulnerable. Be their voice, and contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 for a free consultation. We’ve helped thousands of West Virginians fight for their loved ones in nursing homes, and we’re ready to fight for your loved one.