According to an article from U.S. News, “7 Red Flags to Watch for When Choosing a Nursing Home”, if you are going about it correctly, choosing a nursing home should take many days and many conversations. When going through the process, while there are several great things to be on the lookout for, there are also red flags to keep an eye out for:
When you are visiting a nursing home you will not only want to look around, but you will want to pay attention to what you hear. Is it chaotic? Or is there loud overhead paging? These kind of loud noises can contribute to agitation.
Examine how the staff and the residents are interacting. Do the nurses use residents’ first names? Note how promptly nurses respond and if the respect is going both ways. If the staff members are talking more with one another than those they are to be taking care of, this should raise a red flag.
Are the administrators absent or accessible? When you visit, you should be able to also ask them questions, not just the staff. When talking to the staff though, it is also important to see if they are overworked or stressed. This can help you determine if administration is effective or ineffective.
Since moving into a long-term care facility strips seniors of much of their autonomy, you will really want to consider the number of choices they have or lack thereof. It is important that seniors can make their own decisions about what they wear, when they sleep or are awake, and what and when they eat. Are there more activities than just bingo? Can residents chose what they do?
- Visiting Hours
It is, of course, reasonable that family members are not busting in at odd hours of the night, but it is important that they can come and visit as they please. It is also important that they can join for meals and activities. Also, it is a good idea to consider visiting a nursing home on week nights or the weekend when doing your research to see if the staff has fled or not. If they have, that might be a warning sing as well.
- The Neighborhood
This is extremely important because being able to safely get outside and have a secure outdoor space is very beneficial to mental health.
Misaligned values should be a warning sign as well. Look at the facility’s approach to end-of-life and philosophy of care. Do these match up with your own? Or is there flexibility in the philosophy and the staff will work to meet you on your preferences? This is a time that honesty is important because you truly want to pick a residence that behaves consistently with your values.
Making sure to consider these red flags as you take the journey to finding the best nursing home facility is an important piece of the puzzle. Remember, it shouldn’t be an easy and simple process. Contacting an experienced elder law attorney can be very beneficial in making these decisions or knowing where to look as well. Additionally, working with and estate planning lawyer will help having a plan for affording a nursing home.
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Reference: U.S. News (March 15, 2015), “7 Red Flags to Watch for When Choosing a Nursing Home”