Did you know that there were 1.3 million people in nursing homes in 2015? This number will grow significantly over the next decades as the population ages and needs long-term medical and personal care.
You may have started considering a nursing home for yourself or a loved one. Either way, the search for the right facility can seem overwhelming. After all, you want a place that is affordable and safe while also providing a good quality of life and proper care.
When investigating your options, you’ll want to pay attention to the staff, other residents, the building, and even the atmosphere. This means checking the place out yourself and doing extensive research.
Read on to see eight tips for choosing a nursing home.
1. Get Some Recommendations From Honest Individuals
Picking from a list of nursing homes online can seem overwhelming. So, reach out to friends, family, medical professionals, and others in your community to get some recommendations.
You’ll want to get at least a few options that you can visit and research. Also, ask the person making the recommendation exactly why they like the facility. You might also learn of some specialties certain nursing homes offer this way.
2. Pay Attention to the Staff
When you visit each nursing home, watch how the staff interacts with residents. Be wary if they seem rude, careless, or dismissive. Also, watch out for facilities that have only a few nurses and assistants helping a large group of residents.
You’ll also want to consider the staff’s competence. If a nurse seems to not know how to handle a resident or take a long time to respond, this raises a red flag.
3. Look for Signs of Neglect
Neglect is an unfortunate occurrence in many nursing homes. In some cases, it even goes unreported to the state and the residents’ families, as this article discusses.
Unexplained bedsores, bruises, and poor hygiene in residents can indicate neglect may have happened. Also, look out for staff who ignore the residents or handle them physically when they need help.
You’ll also want to research the nursing home online to see if people have made complaints or if the facility has violated state standards. You can learn this through online reviews, news articles, and your state ombudsmen’s website.
4. Check the Condition and Environment of the Facility
How the nursing home looks and smells can give you an idea of whether the owners maintain the place. If you smell something strongly, this could mean the staff doesn’t take care of the patients and don’t clean up messes. On the other hand, a dirty floor and dusty walls and ceilings can mean the nursing home has no regular basic maintenance.
Also, pay attention to the environment to see if it sounds loud and chaotic or more peaceful and calm. If staff seem to always rush and the residents moan, this can indicate the residents don’t get the best care in that environment.
5. Try the Food
You probably don’t expect a nursing home’s food to taste like your favorite high-end restaurant. However, it should taste of good quality and also provide proper nutrition. It also should look edible and appealing with no signs of spoilage.
Consider trying a meal yourself so you can form a good opinion. You can also ask the staff about how often residents get food, what food options they have, and whether they can share meals with visitors.
6. Watch to See If the Residents Look Happy There
What to look for in a nursing home is an environment that the residents seem to enjoy. They should have activities to do throughout the day and opportunities to socialize.
If you notice that the residents seem to just sit in front of a TV, this can indicate a lack of scheduled activities like games and physical activity. You won’t want to choose a facility that doesn’t keep the resident engaged and active.
Happy residents also include those who look well cared for. If you notice that none of the residents smile or look properly groomed, this signals the place might be unenjoyable.
You may even get the chance to ask a couple of residents directly about how they feel staying at the place. This will give you a firsthand view that offers information you don’t find from a third party like a resident’s family member or nursing home worker.
7. Consider Whether the Facility Serves the Person’s Needs
Some nursing homes specialize in health conditions like dementia. Others offer more general care with a space available for people with Alzheimer’s.
You’ll want to consider the prospective resident’s current health and personal care needs in choosing the right type of nursing home. If the prospective resident has advanced dementia, they will likely get the best care at a special facility that has appropriate medical staff that handles the condition.
8. Make Sure the Place Meets Licensure Requirements
The federal and state governments set licensure requirements for nursing homes. So you’ll want to get familiar with them early on to recognize any red flags.
These rules can range from education and experience requirements for nursing home administrators and staff to staff-to-resident ratios. They also include residential care plans, grooming requirements, nutritional standards, medication safety, and overall quality of life.
Check with your state to make sure the facility has the right registration and to learn about past inspections. You should be able to find out if the nursing home has failed to meet standards and whether incidents like resident neglect have occurred.
You’re Ready to Start Choosing a Nursing Home
Now you know nine things to look for when choosing a nursing home. So, it’s time to start getting those recommendations and doing thorough research.
When looking for a nursing home for someone else, you might feel tempted to make the decision yourself. However, you should make sure the prospective resident is also comfortable with things like the food, staff quality, environment, and activities. You’ll also want to consider finances in the decision and choose a place that takes any insurance available.
Be sure to check out our other posts about long-term care issues.