I came across this article written by Dr. Michael Camardi appearing the the Ranoake Times who put together a nice list of things to do when selecting a nursing home for a loved one. I am particularly fond of his idea of including the actual resident when selecting the facility. Even if extraordinary steps need to be taken to physically bring the person to visit the nursing home via ambulance or medical transport, it is time and money well spent. If the person is completely bed-bound, take photos of the various facilities to help them in making this important decision.
Below is Dr. Camardi’s list of steps to take when selecting a nursing home:
1. Geography. Try to find a home within a 20-minute driving distance (no longer than a half-hour) so as to make the journey easily as there will be frequent trips to visit, bring various items, attend meetings with the staff, etc. When there’s an emergency, time is important.
2. Use your phone sense. Call prospective homes and gauge how well the staff handles your questions and arranges an appointment for you to take a tour of the facility. You can tell a lot about the stress level of the site by the way a phone inquiry is handled.
3. Go the state health department Web site (www.vdh.state.va.us/OLC/longtermcare/) for a copy of the last three state surveys. Seeing the last one is not enough. What you want to see is if the site has a tradition of excellence in caring for the elderly.
4. Use your instinct. Recall how your senses were alerted when you went to look at a prospective house for sale? Think of what you looked for: Was it clean or dusty? Was it bright and cheerful or dull and depressing? Did it smell fresh or was there an odor? Apply those same standards when looking for a place to live for your loved one.
5. Make a list of the specific issues that pertain to your loved one and pose those questions. These can run the gamut from dietary concerns to newspaper delivery to types of TV/radio sets to pictures on the wall. Does the facility make every effort to make the nursing home your loved one’s home or do they put barriers in the way?
6. When you get to the site, how are you received? Do you get eye-to-eye contact. Are you given an information package detailing the key features of the facility. Do they offer refreshments while you’re on tour. In short, are they happy to do their best so as to have you entrust them with your loved one?
7. Look closely at the other residents. Don’t see many? There may be a reason. Do the patients who seem most impaired look clean and well-kept? Those are the most challenging ones for the staff and can be a good insight into the level and quality of nursing care. Look down the halls and see how long it takes for a call bell to be answered.
8. Look at the staff. Are they busy and engaged with the residents? Are there relationships there or is everyone just going through the motions?
9. Come back on the evening shift unannounced. This is very, very important on many levels, and if the impression you received during your tour is confirmed during your evening visit, then you have a serious candidate.
10. Talk to people about your findings and seek affirmation. Friends who have placed loved ones in nursing homes, social workers who place patients in nursing homes and doctors who care for patients in nursing homes. These are the people at the tip of the spear.
11. Make the decision about the final placement together. Leave nobody out even if they are not directly involved. Don’t be second-guessed. This is the time to bring up the issue of appointing someone as having power of attorney. It is a great responsibility and the one who is chosen must have good judgment, sound reasoning and have known the patient very well over the years.