SELECTING THE RIGHT NURSING HOME

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BY PETER SCHWARTZ
We were lucky to be able to keep my mother out of a nursing home. We were able to have her live at home with help up until she died. She was a very independent woman and probably would not have done very well in that type of setting.

My maternal grandmother fell and broke her hip in the early 70’s. The family had to put her in a nursing home because she needed the type of help the family was unable to provide.

The times were much different back then. Nursing homes were very depressing. We visited grandma regularly. She was very unhappy there. We grandkids talked about taking her out of that ‘Bad Place’. We were all young and were never able to pull that off. Her time spent there contributed to her eventual decline.

Fast forward to today. We get to visit many senior campuses in our service area. The changes in the campuses offered today are dramatic. Many are faith based organizations. They are over the top, from their beautiful common areas to the amenities they offer their residents. Some have pools, workout rooms, library, media rooms, special rooms for family events and cafeteria’s that give residents a restaurant atmosphere giving them choices for different menu items. They get to live with dignity.

When you begin your search for the right place for your loved one, there are many things to consider to make a good fit. As an example, high price does not always mean high quality care. There are many places out there that don’t have all the bells and whistles but give high quality, compassionate care.

Likewise there are places that have the wow factor but do not do a good job with care. You must do your homework.
The nursing home industry is heavily regulated in most states and yet despite very clear-cut guidelines, many facilities are unable to meet the minimum requirements as outlined in State nursing home operational laws.

Most reports and findings on each facility are filed and published online. Visiting watchdog agencies like Medicare.gov, you can research each facility by name or zip code to learn more about each facility. Past violations are important. Also an important factor is the severity of the violation. Minor violations like dirt in a basement may not be a game changer, while residents left to wander from the grounds is a very serious infraction and should influence your decision.

High employee turnover is also a consideration. When you tour the facility ask staff how long they have worked there. High turnover is a red flag. Also on your tour talk to residents. They can often give you a clear picture as to the ‘livability” of the facility.

Resident independence is also a consideration. A high level of surveillance is also an important consideration. In some cases, having Alzheimer’s or other types of degenerative diseases would generally require staff to provide a higher level of security for that individual. However, it’s also important that residents do not feel like they are on lockdown. Residents often enjoy a communal environment and it’s important that these activities are encouraged and promoted by the facility.

Finally, use your instinct. If you have a bad feeling about the place, go with your instinct. It’s important to remember that there are many campuses in the twin cities and finding the right one for your loved one is an important step to their long term happiness.