Five Things to Consider When Selecting a Nursing Home
Important elder care decisions are never easy to make. The decision to transition a loved one into a nursing home can be emotional, challenging and overwhelming to say the least. The advice of an elder law attorney can be helpful in navigating these decisions. There are also numerous factors to consider when faced with this difficult decision, such as your loved one’s required level of care. Here are five other important factors to keep in mind:
- Location of Facility
How convenient is the location to family members and friends? What are the visiting hours? Location is vital, as it will determine how often the resident is visited by family and friends. Frequent visits are important as they generally contribute to the resident’s mental and emotional well-being. Furthermore, frequent unannounced visits allow staff to know that family members or friends are vigilantly overseeing the resident’s quality of care. Additionally, having family members and friends close by ensure that issues can be addressed quickly when they arise.
What is the physical appearance of the facility? Is it clean, safe, brightly-lit and welcoming? What does it smell like? Are there outdoor grounds which are accessible and maintained to allow residents to enjoy them safely while visiting with their loved ones? What sounds do you hear?
The staff members at a nursing home are so important as they are going to be the ones who are responsible for ensuring your loved one’s safety and well-being. Their attitude, expertise, and professionalism are vital. You should always ask plenty of questions and spend some time observing the staff. Does the staff address residents by their name? Observe if they demonstrate a warm and respectful attitude towards the residents. Inquire about the ratio of staff to residents during each shift and the turnover in employees. Does the staff undergo continuing education and training programs frequently?
- Well-being of Residents
How do the residents spend their time? Ask to see the calendar of daily events. Do they include fitness classes, games, religious services, educational classes and other social events? Are the residents taking advantage of these activities or tucked in their rooms with the TV on and alone? Is there a library available for residents to use? Are residents taken to local community events and cultural activities, or are those activities brought to them?
This is always a big one understandably. If possible, ask to dine at the facility, at least once. Determine whether the food is visually appealing and tastes appetizing. Look around to see whether the residents are enjoying their food or struggling to eat it. Do residents eat in a communal area or in their room? How often does the menu change? Can accommodations be made for dietary restrictions? What if a resident needs assistance eating?
It is important to consult an elder care lawyer who can assist you in making these important care choices for your loved one. An elder care attorney can advise you on the various options available to pay for the care and to connect you with other qualified professionals such as care managers (who can assist in evaluating care needs and recommending an appropriate facility). Although this is a difficult decision fraught with emotions and challenges, an elder law attorney can assist in navigating the process and reducing some of the anxieties that often accompany such a decision.
Attorney Julia K. Abbott is a partner with the Dedham firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.
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