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What should you consider when choosing a nursing home?

Whether you saw it coming or it snuck up on you, it became abundantly clear that your parent could no longer take care of him- or herself. You may have tried taking care of your parent yourself, but your second realization was that you didn't have the skills needed to care for him or her.

Now, you face finding a nursing home that you believe will take care of your loved one the way you would. But, after hearing all of the negative stories about nursing homes, you may have some anxiety about making this choice.

Things to think about

As you look for a nursing home, you might think about the following:

  • What level of care does your parent need?
  • What is the ratio of staff to residents?
  • Does the home have adequate safety features to prevent unnecessary injuries to your parent?
  • Does the home look clean?
  • Does the facility smell clean?
  • Do you smell anything odd or unpleasant?
  • What does the food look and taste like?
  • What medical personnel will attend to your parent's health care? Are they readily available when needed?
  • Do key personnel work full-time or part-time?
  • Is the facility licensed and certified by the state of California?
  • What do the rooms look like?
  • Do the residents look cared for, i.e., clean, content and happy?
  • Does the facility look like it's well maintained?
  • Will your parent have access to private spaces and recreational activities?
  • Do the medical personnel, administrators and staff members have training in long-term care and geriatrics?
  • What services does the basic cost include?
  • Can you ask for additional services, and how much will they cost?
  • What happens if your parent needs financial support to remain in the home?

You may also want to make inquiries regarding whether the nursing home received complaints and what they were about. If anyone filed complaints against the nursing home, were they satisfactorily resolved? You should also be able to stop in any time to see how the home really runs. Scheduling an appointment gives administrators time to prepare for your visit. Showing up unannounced may reveal more about the facility.

If someone betrayed your trust

When you finally choose a nursing home for your parent, you may find out later that someone at the nursing home betrayed your trust. If your parent suffered neglect or abuse, he or she has legal rights, and you may have legal options. When it comes to the health and safety of your loved one, you have the right to ask questions, and you may need an elder law attorney to help you find the answers you seek.

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