Most people would prefer to care for their elderly loved ones at home – but that’s not always possible. Members of the “sandwich generation,” for example, know well that it can be overwhelming to try to balance the demands posed by their careers, their children and their aging parents.
Just the same, you don’t want to risk your loved one’s health and safety by placing them in a care facility that’s anything but caring. That makes it important to go into any facility you think may be suitable with open eyes and an inquiring mind.
What should you consider?
Choosing a nursing home for a loved one can be a difficult decision, but there are several things you can look for to ensure that the facility provides quality care. Here are some things to consider:
- Check their Medicare quality rating: Medicare-approved facilities are rated from one to five stars (with five stars being the best), so that can help you steer clear of facilities that have had problems.
- Ask about the staff-to-patient ratio: Inquire about staff-to-patient ratios at the nursing home during the day, at night and on weekends (because they can vary). If two care providers are being asked to work the entire facility at night, for example, that indicates that patients will receive very little personal care.
- Look at the facility’s cleanliness: Your eyes are your best tools here. Make sure that the nursing home is well-maintained, with clean and hygienic living spaces and that patients also seem to be wearing clean clothes and have clean bedding and rooms.
- Ask about safety measures: Inquire about the nursing home’s safety measures, including fire safety, emergency preparedness and security protocols. If your loved one has dementia, it’s particularly important to discuss how the facility prevents elopement.
- Look into the social and recreational activities: Your loved one needs opportunities to engage in activities that are meaningful and enjoyable to them, and the lack of those things can hasten their decline. Make sure that the facility puts actual effort into helping their residents enjoy life.
No matter how careful you may be, things can happen. If your loved one suffers an injury or dies because of a nursing home’s mistake, it may take legal action to hold the right people accountable and stop something similar from happening again.