Picking The Right Nursing Home
You don’t have to spend a long time on nursing home cases to see the worst humanity can impose on another. Broken bones, dehydration, bed sores, malnutrition, infections, untreated falls, and a lack of care are just some of the problems affecting the 1.5 million Americans who reside in nursing homes in the U.S.
So What Do You Look for to Ensure a Quality Home?
First, check out the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rating system. One-star out of five is a low rating based on the quality of care, health inspections, and staffing. A one-star home for example, was found in a federal inspection to have, on average, 14 quality-of-life or safety issues in a one or two-year review period.
The Government Accountability Office found that for-profit homes generally had worse performing nursing homes over not-for-profit homes. It is too tempting to make profits by cutting corners such as reducing staff or paying them poorly.
Warning – the Medicare/Medicaid star system is based on self-reports about the quality of care or lack of. Don’t expect a poor performing nursing home to blow the whistle on itself.
Sometimes an alternative to a nursing home is a better solution. Depend on a financial planner, an elder advocate, or an elder law specialist who can be brought in to determine whether an alternative to a nursing home is even feasible.
These days most nursing homes require the signing of an arbitration agreement. But if you’re given the opportunity, always wave the arbitration so that all the patients legal rights and access to the court system are preserved.
Nursing Home Services in Florida
A facility’s Medicaid certification means that it must meet federal and state standards. They are evaluated every year to be licensed.
In assessing cost, you will want to know what the rate increase history has been. Ask the facility what services are included in the daily rate and, if there is medical care, if it is billed separately.
Ask about the hiring practices of the facility and the turnover rate.
Watch out for arbitration agreements which are often included in admissions paperwork. Signing an arbitration agreement means the resident has just limited his or her ability to address sub-standard care through the courts. It is always wise to have an attorney look over any legal document, especially one that takes away basic rights to redress a wrong.
Most importantly, check with sources that track a nursing home’s record on quality and safety. Consider the rate of infection, weight loss, bed sores, use of restraints, how it deals with depression, anxiety and pain, and the drug-dispensing policy of the facility. Nursing Home Compare is one source for this information.
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is another organization that helps inform and empower the elderly person and his or her family member.
More than 20 years ago there was a "culture change" that took place, largely because it was pushed by elderly advocates and nursing home researchers. The change has resulted in facilities that are less like institutions and more homelike. Residents are encouraged to interact with each other and the staff and those interactions can be intergenerational. Residents are given choices on their own daily activity. Paying attention to creating a home atmosphere has made a world of difference in the quality-of-care and of life in a nursing home setting.