Questions you must ask a prospective Nursing Home

Often times, people who are assisting a family member or other loved ones in transitioning to a nursing home are overwhelmed at the task at hand.  I strongly encourage these individuals to visit the nursing home armed with this helpful list of questions written by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services:

Health Care and Services
•    Can residents retain their personal physician if they wish?
•    Will a resident be moved out of the facility if additional care is needed?
•    Do residents have input in the development of care plans?
•    Are rehabilitation programs and therapies offered, as appropriate?
•    What are the policies on “do not resuscitate” and “advance directives”?
•    If applicable, does the facility meet the Alzheimer’s Association criteria?
•    Does the facility offer specialized programs or services?

Staffing

•    What is the staff to resident ratio?
•    What are the facility’s hiring and staffing policies?
•    How are prospective employees screened?
•    What kind of training do new employees receive?

Accommodations

•    Is there adequate privacy and space in resident rooms?
•    What personal possessions are permitted in resident rooms?
•    How are items protected from theft?
•    If rooms are shared, how are roommates selected?
•    What happens if roommates are not compatible?
•    What are the policies on transfer and relocation of residents?
•    Are there activity rooms and lounge areas for resident use?
•    Are the bathing and food preparation areas clean and accessible?

Meals and Resident Activities
•    Are meals served in an appealing manner and at proper temperature?
•    Ask to sample a meal.
•    Are there food choices?
•    Are there accommodations for special diets?
•    Are snacks and drinks available between meals?
•    Is there an active residents’ council?
•    Are special events held at or outside the facility and what is scheduled?
•    Are there religious or cultural activities offered?

Family Visits
•    What are the facility’s policies concerning family visits?
•    Are there designated visiting hours?
•    What space is available for visits?
•    Are there limitations on the number of visitors or frequency of visits?
•    Are family members permitted to join relatives for occasional meals?

Payment Policies
•    Is the facility approved to accept Medicare or Medicaid patients?
•    What is the billing and payment policy?
•    What is included in the daily/monthly rate?
•    Are there any additional charges?
•    How long will the bed be held if the resident is hospitalized?

Facility Environment
•    Do the residents appear to be well cared for, properly groomed, and dressed appropriately for the season and time of day?
•    Do staff seem to be friendly, caring and accommodating to residents, visitors and others?
•    Do staff members respond promptly to resident’s requests?
•    Is the facility clean?
•    Are there strong odors in the facility?
•    Is the facility well maintained, pleasing and cheerful?
•    Are the exits clearly marked and accessible?

Survey Reports
•    When was the facility’s last survey conducted?
•    Is the most recent survey report available in the facility? If so, where?
•    Have cited deficiencies been corrected?
•    If corrected, when and how were they corrected?
•    How will the facility prevent them from recurring?
•    If deficiencies are not yet corrected, what is the facility’s plan for correcting?

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