The responsibility of choosing a nursing home facility for a beloved family member is an exercise in trust and discretion. You’re tasked with the mission of matching their healthcare, social, emotional, and safety needs with a largely unknown entity. Handing over the around-the-clock care of your loved one can incite anxiety in even the most cool-headed individual.
However daunting, the process of choosing a quality nursing home facility is possible, especially when you use your values as a guidepost. Patient-centered care provided with compassion, a commitment to quality, and affordability are all values that may factor into your facility assessment. Applying components of your values to how nursing home facilities operate will help to guide your search.
1. Assess Staff Competency and Facility Hiring Criteria
Your loved one’s safety and security are of the utmost importance. You’re entrusting an unknown entity to treat them one with dignity and respect. While you can’t predict the future, you can assess several key quality-of-care markers to inform your decision.
The high demands placed on nursing home facilities and their staff can create challenging environments. Staff shortages, competency gaps, and high-stress situations can come to a head, resulting in risky situations for vulnerable residents. The last thing you may be thinking about is hiring a nursing home abuse lawyer. However, you can assess abuse risk factors that commonly result in the need for legal representation.
Frequently, care issues arise when nursing homes aren’t adequately staffed with competent providers. Location may play a role, as qualified employees may be challenging to recruit in some areas of the country. Request information about hiring criteria, credentials, and continuing education. Learn about staff retention and how employees are assessed specifically for patient care and safety. If a facility resists providing this information, it may be an indicator that you should consider other options.
2. Witness Compassion in Action
Many in the healthcare field are attracted to the profession by the opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives. Often at their most vulnerable, those in need of nursing home services deserve care from someone they can trust. Not only should these providers be competent, but they should also exude compassion, especially to the elderly.
After shortlisting potential facilities that meet your basic requirements, conduct non-official visits to get a sense of daily care. While you want to believe that compassionate care is a given, reports of elder abuse persist, even in high-end facilities. You may not be able to go further than the facility’s common space, but even a casual visit can be telling.
Get a read of the residents’ moods, analyze patient-provider interaction, and strike up conversations with those around you. When you’re ready, chat with the facility’s marketing director, usually the one charged with new resident recruitment. Ask for referrals from both residents and families, focusing on opportunities to speak with these individuals directly. Draft interview questions based on your loved one’s unique needs to determine whether the facility matches your values.
3. Compare Care Quality and Value Against Time-Tested Metrics
Healthcare facilities are assessed regularly by local and state health inspectors. These inspections are generally public records and can be accessed through transparency portals or records requests. Some facilities may also be required to post their ratings publicly on-site. Generally, this information is displayed visibly and on their website, as well as on government-hosted nursing home databases.
Ask the facilities you’re considering for the past few years of assessments to get an idea of their track record. If there are significant swings, either positive or negative, request more information. Medicare provides some guidance that can be helpful as you assess care quality factors and reports. Facilities accepting Medicare or Medicaid must meet certain criteria to be certified, so this information should be easily available.
Sometimes, your loved one will need short-term care after undergoing a procedure with special recovery requirements. Other times, you’ll be researching facilities for your elder’s long-term care. No matter your needs, there are quality care markers specific to each type of care provided. Using a five-star rating, the goal is to provide an easy-to-understand way for families to identify high- and low-performing facilities. Use this assessment method to compare facilities side-by-side based on the factors that are most important to you.
Formulate a Thoughtful Decision for Your Loved One’s Long-Term Care
Now that you’ve visited potential facilities, comparing your values to their patient care practices, it’s time to narrow your options. Discuss healthcare needs and facility features with your loved one and their healthcare team to determine essential criteria. This information can get complex, so it’s a good idea to document these conversations thoroughly.
If new questions arise, log them in a central location before pursuing a follow-up visit or sending an email. This can help you organize one-off questions and document responses. Take your time in making a choice, thoroughly assessing inspection reports, reviews, and care quality data. Your loved one deserves a thoughtful choice for their nursing home care that’s in alignment with your values criteria. With a well-researched, values-based search, you can be confident that your loved one is in good hands.