diana perry

diana perry

You've made the heartbreaking decision to move a loved one to a nursing home. Now where do you begin in your search for the right facility?

Moving your parent to a nursing home is never easy - but if home care has become impossible, it may be time to entrust your loved one's care to a nursing facility.

Where to start
Your local government has someone you can talk to (a long-term care ombudsman) who is familiar with local nursing homes. To locate yours, go to the Web site for the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (www.nursinghomeaction.org) or call 202-332-2275.

Another helpful resource, the Nursing Home Compare Web site, (www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp), provides nursing home inspection reports.

Things to consider in your search

  • Is the home Medicare and Medicaid certified?
  • Are residents clean and well groomed?
  • Is the home free of unpleasant odors?
  • Does it appear clean and well-kept?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Are furnishings comfortable and attractive?
  • Do staff and residents have friendly relationships?
  • Are background checks performed on new employees?
  • Is a full-time Registered Nurse always on duty?
  • Do the same staff members work with the same residents on a regular basis?
  • Is a full-time social worker on staff?
  • Is a licensed doctor on staff?
  • May residents have personal belongings in their rooms?
  • Do residents get a choice of roommates?
  • Are residents' possessions protected?
  • Are there visitation areas?
  • Are there smoke detectors and sprinklers?
  • Do common areas have wheelchair access?
  • Are there handrails in hallways and grab bars in bathrooms?
  • May residents choose their foods at mealtime?
  • Are nutritious snacks readily available?
  • Do staff members assist residents who need help with eating?
  • Are residents able to go outdoors?
  • Is there an evacuation plan?
  • Are regular fire drills held?
  • May residents see their regular doctors?

Passing inspection
Nursing homes that provide Medicare and Medicaid benefits are inspected at least once a year and must meet 150 requirements. Residents, family members, caregivers and administrative staff are interviewed. Everything from food safety to resident abuse and neglect (e.g. withholding medication, failing to prevent bed sores, restraining patients without reason or inflicting physical violence) is investigated.

If requirements aren't met, the nursing home can be fined, denied payment or monitored. If the problems aren't corrected, the nursing home loses its right to treat Medicare or Medicaid patients, and those residents are moved to another facility. Inspection reports must be posted in clear view of visitors and residents.

Resident rights
Nursing home residents have legal rights and must be given a copy of them.

  • You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • You must be informed in writing about services and fees before entering the nursing home.
  • You have the right to manage your own money or to choose someone to do this for you.
  • You have the right to privacy. You have the right to keep and use your personal belongings and property as long as it does not interfere with the rights, health or safety of others.
  • You have the right to be informed about your medical condition and medications. You have the right to see your own doctor. You also have the right to refuse ED medications and treatments.

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