- “In Kendall, a 74-year-old woman was bound for more than six hours, the restraints pulled so tightly they ripped into her skin and killed her.”
- “In Hialeah, a 71-year-old man with mental illness died from burns after he was left in a bathtub filled with scalding water.”
- “In Clearwater, a 75-year-old Alzheimer’s patient was torn apart by an alligator after he wandered from his assisted-living facility for the fourth time.”
While I hope my family never needs to initiate the process of finding senior housing for me (I started doing it for myself — after my Parkinson’s diagnosis a few years ago — before I “saw the light” and made the very correct decision to stay in my own home), I wondered what online resources were available to families facing that transition for loved ones — from home to institution.
I did the classic Google search, and here’s what I found, from the top (most viewed) down.
The first couple links were ads… the price we pay for having such a remarkable search engine available to us. Find.nursinghomes.com and Care.com both required cranking in personal data before the site provided any useful information. A no brainer – commercial sites want to get our info. Needless to say, I didn’t give them what they wanted!
The first – apparently most used – non-commercial link was Medicare’s nursing home compare site. It touted its quality measures based on new resident assessments, a measurement that seemed helpful. It gave info in columns that included distance, overall rating, health inspections, staffing, and quality ratings. As you might expect, as a government site it seemed pretty comprehensive, with information about many other things, including hospitals, doctors, and home health care.
The site appeared helpful, easy to use, and also provided information about hospitals by specialty, hospitals by city, best diets for you, and top health insurance companies.
Nursing Home and Staff Credentials
When you consider a nursing home, ask these important questions about the facility’s licensing and staff credentials:
- What are the nursing home licensing requirements in your state?
- Research the licensing requirements in your state for various types of facilities. Make sure the facilities on your list are licensed and that their licenses are prominently posted in the facility.
- Ask about the credentials of the staff.
- Does the nursing facility offer training?
- Are there staff dedicated to the different types of dementia?
- How many licensed RNs are on staff at all times?
- Ask to see the Resident’s Bill of Rights. If you choose a facility, ask for a copy of the Bill of Rights and keep it on file.
- Some nursing homes have developed a “neighborhood” concept so residents can live and socialize with people who have similar needs and experiences. Are residents with dementia grouped together in one wing or are they spread out?
- Is there a Social Services Worker on staff in the facility? These workers can make the transition easier for older adults, and can help to make their stay more comfortable.
- What do the meals consist of? Can a special diet be implemented? What steps are taken to ensure the proper foods are given to the right residents?
- Look at the activity noise level and cleanliness of the facility. Is it clean? Is there a healthy amount of background noise?
- Are safety and accessibility top priorities for the facility?
- What precautionary steps are in place for emergencies?
- Are there smoke detectors, how many, are they all working?
- How often do they have the fire extinguishers checked and if they know where they are located?
- Are safety procedures adequate? Are stairways and exits clearly marked?
- Is it easy to move from one place to another?
- Are halls and toilets wide enough for wheelchairs?
- Are there any floor hazards like being too slippery or having a thick carpet?
- Is there an emphasis on allowing residents to be as independent as they can be?
- Are bathing devices available? Are handle rails provided in bathing areas?
- Are dining rooms and amenities well-spaced to keep walking distances short?
- Does the facility have a “community” feel?
- Are the residents happy, alert, groomed, clean, well-fed, and healthy?
- Are the interactions between co-workers, and between workers and residents caring, friendly, and supportive?
- Does the staff know the residents by name?
- What services does the facility provide?
- A facility dedicated to resident comfort and service should provide laundry facilities on each floor, flat linen service, monthly housekeeping, maintenance and scheduled transportation.
- Other amenities may include a hair salon, bank, and gift shop.
- Each room should have individually controlled heat and air conditioning with an emergency response system.
- What types of activities are provided?
- How are nursing activities supervised? How often are they held?
- Does the nursing home provide social, recreational, spiritual, fitness and wellness programs?
- What kinds of exercise regimes are included?
- Does the nursing home provide exercise equipment that is appropriate for residents and easy-to-use?
- Does the nursing home have a fitness instructor on staff?
- What types of social and individual activities are offered?
- Does the nursing home have a computer room, meditation room, library, craft room, game room or wood shop?
- Are religious services available, including visitation and worship?
- Does the nursing home property include nature areas, gardens and footpaths?
- Are different levels of nursing home care, from assisted living to health care to short term rehabilitation programs, available?
- Is there a focus on needs assessment to determine the appropriate level of care for each nursing home resident?
- Is there sufficient nursing and personal care, including medication management?
- Are in-home health services available?
- Are nurses always close at hand?
- If the facility offers short term rehabilitation programs, is there a private wing with private rooms and a dining area ?
- Does the nursing home facility offer care for residents with dementia? What kinds of programs are available for these residents?
- Does the nursing home provide personal care plans? Are these plans developed by an inter-disciplinary team?
- Is there a guaranteed that the entrance fee is refundable?
- Do the assisted living and health care services come at no additional monthly fee?
- To what degree does the nursing home manage residents’ finances?
- Are Medicare and Medicaid plans accepted?
- When you research nursing homes, look for facilities that are dedicated to continually making quality improvements in the level of care they provide.
- Does the nursing home have programs in place to study processes, re-evaluate services and ask residents and families what might be done better?
- How often are the findings from these programs implemented into changes for the staff, residents, and administration?
- Is the center dedicated to the continuous training of its staff? How is training implemented? And how often?
- Does the dedication to improvements carry over into every facet of the facility?