How To Pick A Nursing Home

A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, provides a wide range of health and personal care services.

People go to nursing homes for different reasons, including if they’re sick, hurt, had surgery and need to get better, or have chronic care needs or disabilities that require on going nursing care. This guide to selecting the right nursing home for you or your loved one can help you make informed decisions about nursing home care, whether you’re planning ahead or need to make an unexpected decision.

Before you get started
You may have other long-term care options, like community services, home care, or assisted living, depending on your needs and resources. Before choosing a nursing home, you can check to see if one of these other options is available to you, or if they might help after a nursing home stay.

Consider what you want
What is important to you—nursing care, meals, physical therapy, a religious connection, hospice care, or special care units for dementia patients? Do you want a place close to family and friends so they can easily visit?

Visit the facility
Make plans to meet with the director and the nursing director. Look for:

  • Medicare and Medicaid certification
  • Handicap access
  • Residents who look well cared for
  • Warm interaction between staff and residents
While you observe, you should look for staff who possess skilled nursing care and personal care, but also demonstrate a polite, warm and respectful relationship between the staff and the resident. You can also see if the staff knocks on residents doors before entering and if they call residents by their name.

Keep close to home
One smart move is to look at facilities located near relatives and friends, as long as they are highly rated, experts said. That way, a nursing home patient will have frequent visitors and facility employees will know that those visitors are scrutinizing the care they’re providing.

If you have Medicare
Medicare covers short-term nursing home stays following hospitalization, but generally doesn’t cover long-term care or stays in a nursing home. Medicare only covers home- and community-based long-term care in limited situations.

If you have Medicaid
Medicaid may cover long-term nursing home stays, and home- and community-based services. Home- and community-based services provide opportunities for people with Medicaid to get services in their own homes or community based residential settings. These programs serve a variety of groups, including people with mental illnesses, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and/or physical disabilities.

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