Finding the best nursing facility for a loved one or yourself can be a major undertaking. There are many factors to consider before committing to a nursing home. By approaching this life-changing task one step at a time, the process will flow much easier and perhaps move more quickly in the right direction.
For short-term care, it makes good sense to look in or near the patient’s hometown. For serious conditions that require a long-term stay, it might be better to move the patient to a location closest to involved family members. Although, the urge to keep a loved one close to home is understandable. But, if the only relatives that play a role in the patient’s care live far away, it could be difficult, unaffordable or simply impossible for them to visit. In the short run a big move may be inconvenient, but over time it might be the best solution for all involved.
If you will be relying on Medicare or Medicaid to cover any or all of the nursing home costs, then start by finding homes in your designated area that are certified to take both plans. Medicare provides a search tool that allows you to list and compare all certified skilled nursing homes in your area.
Next, consider the patient’s condition and health concerns. Specialized care may be needed, such as a facility that specifically deals with Alzheimer’s/dementia, rehab physical therapy, hospice care or pain management.
Once you have found a facility that meets both your insurance and specialized care requirements, ask for input. Talk to the patient’s physician, social worker, family, friends, co-workers, etc., to learn if they are familiar with any of the homes you are considering. Take good notes, you will be glad you did later.
Look up nursing home reviews online to read what others have to say about the choices on your list. You can start with SeniorAdvisor.com, or call your local department of health or department on aging for further information.
After you have completed some research and have a sense of which nursing homes you want to view, start calling the facilities and scheduling tours. A good rule of thumb is to visit each home of interest at least twice to see how they operate at varying times and to ask different staff members questions. If you can’t get in a tour of a facility or don’t have time to visit before in-patient care is needed, ask a trusted relative, friend or hired eldercare rep to visit at least some of the homes on your list. Be sure that whoever visits the facilities asks a lot of questions of patients and staff. In the end, look for a residential place with staff members who are able and willing to chat with you, have all the answers, and are respectful to patients. With all the time and research invested, you are now in the best position to make an educated choice for you or your loved one.