Choosing a nursing home is almost never a pleasant process. Your loved one may not be ready to make the leap, or they may be incapacitated, suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Ideally, the process is collaborative, carried out through various discussions involving you, your loved one and the entire family. And, if possible, this is a discussion that happens early on, prior to it being an absolute necessity. If you slowly introduce the concept over time, it won’t sting as badly when the moment finally arrives. Alas, no matter how much you prepare for the event, it won’t come without its difficulties. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what to look for when choosing a nursing home facility – whether you’re working collaboratively with your loved one or making a decision on his or her behalf.
To begin with, you want to consider the geographical and architectural aspects of the facility. To that end, you should measure the length of time it takes to travel to the nursing home. Ideally, it’s very close to you, or another family member. You want to be sure that someone can visit your loved one often. Remember, this is a journey you’ll want to make on a regular basis, sometimes after work, so be realistic about the distance. You don’t want to find yourself skipping visits because you’re too tired.
You also want to get a sense of the building and the surrounding land. If possible, ask your loved one about his thoughts on the facility. Does he think the environment is comforting? Perhaps he wants something expansive with lots of space to move around in, or perhaps he wants something cozier, with fewer halls to get lost in. And if your loved one likes the outdoors, you may want to inquire about the surrounding land when making your initial visit. You want to be certain that, if your loved were to explore the area surrounding the facility, he would be safe and have the appropriate care.
Relatedly, one of the most important aspects of a good nursing home facility is the quality of the staff. Members of the staff are going to be interacting with your loved on a daily basis, providing the necessary care and, in some cases, offering a sense of companionship that can be vital to maintaining a good quality of life while in a long-term care facility. For this reason, they should be adequately trained and adept at providing high quality health care, and they should be very respectful and courteous to you and your loved one. In this regard, it can be a good idea to observe the staff when making your initial visit. Notice how they interact with residents. Are they kind? Do they seem knowledgeable? You can also make an inquiry with the administrators, asking about the process for selecting staff. Above all, you want to be sure they have procedures for weeding out those with a history of abuse.
Food and Other Services
With respect to quality of life, it’s essential to consider the kinds of services offered at the nursing home. High quality food services, for instance, can be very beneficial to a person’s well-being. So be sure to ask whether residents can choose their meals and if they have access to snacks throughout the day. You can also check to see if residents are eating the food in front of them. If not, this could be a sign that the cuisine isn’t very good.
As you’re visiting facilities, it’s a good idea to trust your senses. What are your first impressions? Is the environment claustrophobic and hectic? Does the staff seem fatigued and overworked? What does it smell like? Do you notice a lot of untreated bruises or wounds? Take mental notes (or actual notes) of the atmosphere at the nursing home and trust your instincts. Also, be sure to communicate these notes to your loved one. They will surely be interested to know about your initial reaction.
These are a few of the most important criteria to consider as you search for the perfect nursing home. In the end, you may want to seek out the assistance of a healthcare professional – someone who understands the needs of elder patients and who can help narrow down your search.