How To Choose A Skilled Nursing Facility

There are many reasons individuals may require skilled-nursing or rehabilitative care, and those factors will serve as good starting points as you develop a check-list to determine the type of facility that is best for you or your loved one.

Sample Scenarios:

Your mother will be undergoing knee-replacement surgery, but you hold a full-time job and will not be able to help care for her until she is able to move from her bed or chair to use the bathroom safely while you’re not at home. She will require short-term, rehabilitative care.

Your parents have been living independently; however, your father has Alzheimer’s disease, and your mother is no longer able to care for him due to his confusion and wandering. You need to find a long-term, nursing-home placement.

You are a caregiver in your home for your mother, who requires help with bathing, dressing, walking and transferring from her bed or chair to use the bathroom. She is confused at times and is unable to perform any activities independently. You would like to attend your niece’s wedding out of state. To do so, you need to find respite care for your mother.

By knowing the specific type of care you or your loved one will need, you’ll be better prepared when evaluating the suitability of various facilities to meet those needs.

Whenever Possible, Ask to Tour the Facility

By far, the best way to choose a skilled-nursing and rehabilitative-care facility is to tour the facilities you’re considering. Although interviewing staff by phone is always an option for those who reside outside of the area and are seeking local care for a loved one, touring a facility will allow you to gain a feel for its culture and environment, and you will learn so much more in person.

When You Visit, Observe and Ask Questions

  1. Observe the facility. Is it clean and neat? Does it have any unpleasant odors? Do residents appear to be bathed and dressed, with their hair combed? Are there any observable safety or security issues, violations, or hazards?
  2. Observe the employees. Are they friendly, courteous, and willing to help you? How are they interacting with the facility’s residents? Do staff members appear to be caring and compassionate?
  3. Talk with some residents as you pass them in the halls, or ask the staff member conducting your tour if you may speak with some residents. If so, ask, “Do you like it here? How do you like the food? Are staff members helpful and friendly toward you?”
  4. Be sure to ask for tours of the therapy and activities departments, dining areas, and lounges. Also ask to see any outdoor areas that residents and guests may visit and enjoy.

Important Questions to Ask

  1. What deficiencies did you have on your last annual inspection?
  2. Do you offer respite care? (This is a short stay, anywhere from a weekend to several weeks or longer at times, and is usually arranged to provide a home caregiver with needed time away from caregiving responsibilities.)
  3. What is the staff-to-resident ratio on all three shifts?
  4. May I bring pets to visit? Do you have any pets onsite?
  5. May I see an activities calendar?
  6. May I see a menu, and do you have a substitute menu available daily if a resident doesn’t like what is on a particular day’s featured menu?
  7. Do you provide podiatric, dental, or chiropractic services on site?
  8. Is there an area where family and friends may visit, other than a resident’s bedroom or a public lounge?
  9. May I speak with a staff member or supervisor on the wing or unit where my family member may be placed?
  10. Am I able to call and speak with my family member? Will someone bring him or her to the phone?
  11. If I have a concern regarding care, with whom would I speak?
  12. Do you offer internet access and/or a computer that my family member could use?
  13. Do you have a security system to help protect residents who may be prone to confusion or wandering?
  14. What is your policy regarding the use of physical or chemical restraints?
  15. Will my family member have access to a lockable drawer?
  16. How often do you hold meetings with residents’ family members to discuss their care?