Selecting a nursing home

From time to time I have been asked what should one look for when considering having a close friend or loved one admitted to a nursing home.

As a former nursing home administrator I know that selecting a nursing home can be a complex and overwhelming process. Here are a few tips that may help you in making a good choice.

How many years has the facility been in operation? Check for violations by reviewing the annual inspection report made by the department responsible for inspections both in the county and in the state. You should know the facility you are visiting must provide a copy of the most recent report upon request.

What is the average length of employment of staff members? What is the ratio of staff members to residents? Is a written assessment and care plan created for each resident? How often is the plan updated?

Does the facility appear clean, well lit and free from obstructions in hallways and rooms which would limit a resident’s ability to move about? Is there an unpleasant smell? Does the home have a cheerful environment? Is the staff caring and pleasant with residents?

What recreational activities are available to residents? Are religious services for different faiths available? Do visiting hours match your needs? Is the location convenient for family and friends?

What is the monthly cost for care? Request a list of fees in writing.

Also ask what services are not included in the monthly cost. Some facilities make additional charges for services such as laundry and, oddly enough, quality of care issues such as monitoring catheters and prevention of bedsores. Additional charges can increase the bill by as much as $1,000.

Is the facility able to accept Medicare and MediCal patients? What percentage of beds is set aside for these patients?

Are there specialized wings for patients requiring an advanced level of care? Is there a wing for dementia patients?

Remember, the neighborhood in which a facility is located does not necessarily reflect the quality of the care your loved one will receive.

If you are in need of guidance to create a list of facilities to visit, contact your local Office of Aging and area Senior Centers for guidance.

In the event that a loved one does not receive adequate care at a nursing home, competent attorneys are available to represent a patient who has been injured through neglect or abuse such as bed sores, unexplained injuries and bruises and unusual weight gain or loss.

Attorney Morton J. Grabel is a former nursing home and hospital administrator who holds an MBA in healthcare administration and a California Nursing Home Administrator’s License. He can be reached for consultations at (951) 587-0580.

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