Deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other residential care community is difficult. Family members don’t take these decisions lightly.
To make the decision easier, give yourself and your loved one as many choices as possible, and make the best decision for your family, it is important to start looking for a nursing home or other long-term care facility before you really need one. Start by becoming familiar with the different options available; learn whether there is space available; and understand the different services each facility offers.
Of course, in many situations, your loved one is discharged from the hospital directly into a nursing home, leaving little time for research. But regardless of where you are in your search or how much time you have, a nursing home checklist is an important and effective tool that can help streamline your decision-making process and help you critically evaluate your choices.
Here we answer six questions about why it is important to use a nursing home checklist, and explain how using a nursing home checklist can help guide your decision. We also share links to nursing home checklists provided by Medicare, AARP, U.S. News and World Report, and the National Caregivers Library.
Why Is a Nursing Home Checklist Important When Choosing a Nursing Home?
Some nursing homes have serious flaws. Others may have excellent records and provide excellent care, but they’re not the right fit for your family and loved one. One facility might offer more care than you need, while another might not offer enough care.
Using a nursing home checklist gives you a framework for evaluating a nursing home or other long-term care facility and can help you identify the right facility for your loved one and your family.
What Is a Nursing Home Checklist?
A nursing home checklist can help you evaluate the quality of care provided at each facility. A checklist can be used to systematically compare different facilities, evaluate different long-term care options, and ensure that you don’t forget to ask certain questions or look at certain features about a nursing home.
What Should Be on Your Checklist?
There are certain questions that should be on everyone’s nursing home checklist, like “Is the facility licensed?” “Does the facility have space available?” and “Does the nursing home staff appear to have a good, polite, and respectful relationship with residents?”
Other questions will depend on the specific needs and preferences of your loved one, and how they will be paying for care.
Here are links to four nursing home checklists:
- Medicare.gov Nursing Home Checklist
- AARP Nursing Home Checklist
- National Caregivers Library Nursing Home Checklist
- U.S. News and World Report Nursing Home Checklist
They contain similar information. Bookmark them, print them out, and tailor them to your family’s needs.
How Do You Use a Nursing Home Checklist?
Start by identifying nursing homes and long-term care facilities that are close to home or that are located near relatives and friends. Look online to ensure that they are properly licensed and well-rated. Then contact the nursing homes to ask whether they have space available, and to schedule a visit.
Perhaps the most well-known tool for researching nursing homes is Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare, which uses a 5-star rating system to rank nursing homes. ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect offers more detailed information about each facility and can help put nursing home rankings in perspective. CarePathways allows you to search nursing homes by county and compare nursing home ratings and inspection reports.
Can you envision your loved one living there? And will you feel comfortable knowing your loved one is living there, even when you’re not at the facility?
Once you’ve narrowed your search, schedule visits so you can personally investigate how the facility treats residents. During your visit, pay attention to residents’ hair, clothing, teeth, and fingernails. Listen, and think about the environment: is the facility calm and quiet, or noisy and chaotic? Can you envision your loved one living there? And will you feel comfortable knowing your loved one is living there, even when you’re not at the facility?
What Is the Right Kind of Care Facility for Your Loved One?
When choosing a care facility for an elderly loved one, it is important to understand the differences between various facilities and the level of care they offer. Your choices include: independent living communities, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, continuing care facilities, and nursing homes.
The process of researching and choosing a nursing home or other long-term care facility is tedious, and can be emotionally charged. To make the process easier, do your homework, understand who you need to talk to, and create a strategy for researching different nursing home choices. Using a nursing home checklist is a good way to track your research and evaluate the differences between each facility.
How Will You Pay for Nursing Home Care?
Once you’ve decided on the right nursing home for your loved one, you will need to evaluate Medicare and any private insurance your loved one may have. There are different options available that can be used to pay for nursing home care. But paying for nursing home care can be complex. Medicare Part A often only pays for short-terms stays in skilled nursing facilities. But other government and private insurance plans will differ. The nursing home will have staff members available to help you understand the different payment options.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Even after the most diligent research, it’s important to remain vigilant and to be on the lookout for signs of nursing home abuse or neglect. Sometimes the signs are subtle, and may involve emotional abuse of nursing home residents. Be on the lookout for nursing home red flags, such as:
- Signs of understaffing
- High rate of staff turnover
- Increased complaints from residents and family members
- Decreased activities for residents
- Poor nutrition
- Unexplained or frequent illnesses and injuries
- Unexplainable emotional distress
- Unsanitary conditions
- Abuse by other residents or staff members
- Residents who are ignored for long periods of time
- Bedsores or pressure ulcers
If you suspect a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, the experienced elder abuse attorneys at Robenalt Law are here to help. Learn more about our nursing home negligence practice, our team of attorneys, and why clients choose us. Then contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing nursing homes at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.