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What to Look for when Researching a Nursing Home

One of the hardest things for a family to do is to have to resort to placing their elderly loved one in some sort of Nursing Home facility. There’s no easy way to get through it but this article will guide you through the process.
We are human. We age and grow old. We break down and repair ourselves. But much like an old car, eventually our parts just wear out. Bones get brittle, skin gets loose, our posture gets bad, and walking can become difficult or cease all together. Then there is our mind. Confusion or dementia can set in. We can forget things that we’ve known how to do for most of our lives. We can be a danger to the well being and safety of others and ourselves without even realizing it. And when we get to that point, it may be necessary for us to have constant supervision and 24 hour assistance as needed. These days, when most couples both have a job, having someone there to take care of our loved may not be possible. Nor does everyone in the household have the proper training and skills to properly and safely assist our loved one.

It’s times like this when you may have to start looking into alternate care for our loved one. This may mean removing our loved one from the house that they may have spent most of their lives in. It’s not an easy thing to do at all. There is a lot of red tape not to mention the emotional tool it takes on the family.

First you need to have a talk with your loved one’s doctor and find out just what her or his needs are and the level of care that is needed. They may only need an assisted living apartment in a residential community. Your doctor can also give you information or contact information on who to talk with to find out how to pay for this care as it can be VERY expensive. But fear not, the state and Social Security Administration have a hand in the funding as well.

Second, you have to sit down and discuss this with your loved one. They may be upset and angry. This is normal. Calmly explain to them just why this is needed and work on getting through to them that they NEED this care as the quality of life they deserve is not being provided in their present home setting and that it’s for their own safety. If your loved one is confused and such, they may not protest at all but if they’re not, getting them to accept it all may be somewhat of a process. Be patient and try to be considerate of their feelings. If they are active in their church or even somewhat active, ask the church’s Priest or Pasteur for assistance. They have dealt with this before and can be a tremendous help.

Based on the doctor’s recommendation, visit the area’s facilities. Find out what area of the facility your loved on will be in. In many nursing homes, certain level care patients may be kept in different areas. Ask the admissions advocate to take you for a tour of that specific area. Take a look around. How clean is the area? Observe the staff. Look at their faces. Do they seem stressed out like they have 100 things to do in 5 minutes?

Ask to speak to the charge nurse of the area your loved one will be in. They are the ones who are on the ward from day to day and can answer your questions far better than the person in the admissions office. Ask the charge nurse if it would be possible for you to speak with one of the C.N.A (Certified Nursing Assistant) staff. The C.N.A staff will be providing about 85% of the care to your loved one.

Here are some questions to ask:

What time is breakfast, lunch and dinner each day?

This may not seem very important but it will help you to know their daily schedule. And take note of the breakfast time.

What kind of activities does the facility do with the residents?

Many facilities do bingo, square dancing, movie nights, and arts and crafts.

Do they offer physical therapy or occupational therapy?

These things can help your loved one keep their joints in proper working order.

Do they get bathed daily?

Good hygiene is essential to your loved one’s health and comfort.

What is the C.N.A to patient ratio on the unit your loved one will be in?

A C.N.A has a very physical, and emotionally demanding job and they don’t get paid NEARLY what they are worth. In fact, many of them are very underpaid. If when observing the unit staff during your tour, they seem stressed out, the unit is likely understaffed. A single C.N.A may have to take care of 18 patients during their shift and perhaps 12 of them are total care patients who aren’t capable of doing anything for themselves. They are a LOT of work.

What time does the staff get them up in the morning?

This is kind of a sneaky question and it has to do with the meal times. If Breakfast is at 8am and the staff starts their morning care at 5am that’s 3 hours before breakfast that they’re getting up. (Morning care includes bathing, brushing their teeth, shaving, etc.) If that’s the case, the facility is likely understaffed. An experienced C.N.A should be able to have your loved one ready for breakfast in about 30 minutes. Now they have more than one patient to take care of so 2 hours should be sufficient if they are properly staffed.

How much money do you make here?

Ask the C.N.A that question. If it’s under $8 per hour they are very underpaid and staffing is likely a problem there because the second the C.N.A finds something for $9 or $10 per hour, they quit. (And who can blame them?)

You may very well have to go to a FEW facilities before you find a decent one.

And when the time comes and your loved one is settled, make it a point to visit them at least once weekly and bring the grandchildren.

Nursing homes aren’t really a pleasant environment to visit. There are some very ill people there. But they provide a service that our community greatly needs and one day, you may need one as well. Good luck.

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