As the Elder Care Coordinator for Attorney Michael C. Weeks, I am often asked questions by clients, friends or other professionals. The following are my responses to some of those questions I am asked.
- What is the best nursing home? There are many good nursing homes. Unfortunately, the public usually just hears about bad events which can happen in any nursing home. Medicare has a rating system for nursing home. They rate them from one to five stars, five being the best. I tell people not to judge a nursing home solely on these stars. Example: A home that has a five star rating gets a new director of nursing, she is not as effective as the previous director of nursing and as a result the quality of care goes down. The star rating is not going to show that decrease in quality until the State comes in for their yearly inspection and either confirms or assigns a new star rating, that could be months away. The bottom line is that the “Five Star” rating system is just one tool individuals should look at when looking to place a loved one in a nursing home. Nothing can replace going to the home, touring and finding out from the admission director what the home can do for you. In the end you are the only one who knows your loved one and what they need, you are the most qualified to make the final decision.
- What do I look for in a nursing home? I have the advantage of working in the healthcare field for over 20 years. There is one quality that determines in my mind if a nursing home is high quality. That is simply this; when a family encounters a problem in a home how does that home respond? Do they do a full investigation and work with the family to find a resolution or do they claim there is no problem, the family must be the problem. Those homes who work with families to find resolutions when problems arise (and problems can happen in any home) are the homes I recommend.
- How can I ensure my loved one gets good care? Be involved! Attend care plan meetings, ask questions, offer up solutions to problems based on your loved ones history. Visit often. Visit at different times of the day.
- How do I handle the guilt I feel for putting my loved one in a nursing home? Many people told their loved one they would never put them in a home. However, there comes a time in the life of many individuals where placement is not an option, it is a requirement for their care. Many seniors’ healthcare needs are so complex that they cannot be managed appropriately at home. Sometimes safety is an issue. Never let a well-meaning family member/friend tell you, you should not place a loved one. When the time is right you will know it, after all they are not usually offering to become the primary caregiver.