When choosing a nursing home it is extremely important to look at the quality of its staff. This cannot be discovered by attending a planned open house. This also doesn’t mean deciding everyone is nice because the admissions director is courteous and caring during your scheduled tour.
To make an informed decision don’t schedule a tour. Instead, show up unexpectedly on a Sunday or holiday during lunch time. There will be less staff and you can see the nursing home at its low point instead of its high point.
Pay attention to the people eating in the dining room, sitting in the hallways, or in the recreational areas. Are they eating by themselves? Are they being attended or are many waiting to be assisted? Are most residents engrossed in activities or is the hallway filled with disabled people in wheelchairs trying to move about? Is the nursing home quiet or are residents calling out for a nurse, or help to get into bed, or searching for their rooms? These are strong signs that will let you know if sufficient staff is on hand to care for your loved one.
Be observant and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get the answers to the following before ending your nursing home visit:
1. What is the ratio between the staff and residents?
2. In the five-star rating set up by Medicare, how do they rank?
3. Is the relationship between the residents and staff members polite, respectful, and friendly?
4. Do staff members talk about residents in front of them without recognizing they are there?
5. Does your guide and the nurses know each resident by name and do the residents know them?
6. Does the staff address the residents by name and answer their questions when spoken to?
7. Do staff members knock on the resident’s door before entering?
8. Is the call button or buzzer on constantly and no one is coming to the resident’s aid?
9. Does each member of the staff have a name tag?
10. Does the nursing home do extensive background checks?
11. Is there a nursing staff available 24 hours per day?
12. Is a registered nurse on hand at least 8 hours per day and is this the person who administers the prescription drug medications?
13. Does the nursing home offer continuous training for its staff members?
14. Is there a licensed doctor circulating daily who can be contacted readily?
15. Does the nursing home have a full time social worker?
16. Do the same nurses and certified nursing assistants work with the same residents most of the time?
17. Are the certified nursing assistants involved with the planning meetings?
18. Is there a certified nutritionist available?
19. Do residents who need physical and speech therapy receive it daily?
20. Are residents with severe dementia separated from those who only have physical disabilities?
21. Are staff members available to help disabled residents reach outside areas for daily sunshine?
22. Is there an active volunteer program?
23. Are entertainment and activities offered to residents regularly and is everyone encouraged and assisted to partake in them?
A good nursing home doesn’t just offer medical attention when needed. It also should fill in the resident’s daily gaps of extra time to avoid loneliness and boredom. Being respectful and attentive are two major characteristics that separate a good nursing home from a poor nursing home environment.
Just because people become older and start losing their memory, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be treated with the same dignity as others who are healthy. Though their physical and mental capacities may be fading, they are still aware of the attitude and intentions of the caregivers that surround them. They still have the ability to feel the impatience of staff members aiding them and the pain of being ignored, mistreated, or neglected.
It is up to you to demand the most nurturing and caring environment for your loved one. For everyone’s well-being, get the information you need and choose wisely.