There are many factors to consider when choosing the right nursing home for you or your loved one. Here are a few you won’t want to forget:
1. Inspect the Grounds
When you arrive for your tour of the facility, start with a few basic observations. Check for non-skid floors and handrails. Note if the walkways are clear or if there are wheelchairs and other obstructions in the way that could lead to residents tripping and injuring themselves. Beyond safety concerns, observe whether dumpsters are concealed and relatively clean, whether the grounds are quiet or noisy, where there are seating areas, and whether the area feels relaxing and comfortable enough to spend time in.
2. Talk With the Current Residents
Make a point of asking current residents whether or not they enjoy living at the facility. Consider asking them about the food, what they do day-to-day, any activities they take part in, and whether they feel cared for. The facility may appear beautiful on the outside, but listening to the first-hand accounts of the residents will be a great way to make sure it is the perfect fit for you and your family.
3. Talk to the Staff
During your visit, talk to a range of employees. It can be informative to hear from and speak with people working in different departments and different levels within the community. Ask the employees about the facility, their jobs, and the management. In your conversations, note if the staff knows details like the residents’ names. While you don’t want to come off too aggressive, it’s important to get a sense of the facility’s culture.
4. Try the Food
Or, at least check out the menu. While you shouldn’t be expecting a Michelin Star meal, ask about the variety of the food offered. The food should be appetizing, healthy, and fresh. Sit in the dining room while you’re there so you can observe how the staff and residents interact.
5. Remember to Use All of Your Senses
Stop along the way and note the sounds you hear, such as laughter or music versus silence or sounds of distress. Note any smells that stand out. The facility should be well ventilated and smell clean instead of musty or stale.
6. Ensure the Environment is Safe
COVID-19 introduced a whole new set of considerations for families looking into nursing home care. When you visit each facility, look for investments such as room cleaners with HEPA filters and the use of PPE. Federal regulations also mandate that nursing homes have an infection control and prevention program with written standards. At minimum, the facility should have a part-time staff member who is trained in infection prevention.
7. Come Back During Off – Hours
When you schedule a guided visit during a weekday, you are likely seeing the facility at its very best. But before your loved one moves in, it can be very informative to visit on a weekend or in off-hours so you can ensure the experience you had during the guided visit is maintained when the facility is not on high-alert.
For more tips and ideas of what you should consider when choosing the right facility for you or your loved one, check out this AARP article about inspecting prospective nursing homes.