The recent deaths of eight senior citizens at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Broward County, Florida following Hurricane Irma was a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of nursing home residents and the complicated questions people must consider when choosing a facility for their loved ones.
In a perfect world, we’d probably all love to have our aging parents and grandparents home with us so we can tend to their needs the same way they did for us when we were younger. Unfortunately, this is often impossible because of the level of care they require.
Once you decide that a nursing home is the best place to care for your loved ones, there are many things to consider and questions you should be asking to ensure you are choosing the best place for their long-term care.
Here are 15 questions you should ask or things to consider when choosing a nursing home:
- What is the nurse to patient ratio?
- How frequently are they being checked on by staff?
- Do you have 24/7 access to your loved ones?
- What is their restraint policy? (They shouldn’t use restraints unless absolutely necessary and with prior authorization.)
- Do they have any records of elderly abuse or does the institution have any history of complaints?
- Ask to speak with families of current residents so you can get firsthand information on how their loved ones are cared for
- Does the facility have patient advocates and if so, how many?
- Is the facility equipped with video access so you can check on your loved one from an off-site location. This is increasingly more common at nursing homes.
- How does the nursing home handle emergencies? What are the facilities crisis evacuation plans and what failsafe systems are in place for the unexpected?
- Do they have a wound care specialist on site? How is bedsore avoidance handled?
- Do they have a nutritionist or dietician on staff?
- What type of educational and entertainment activities are provided?
- How personalized is the care they provide? If your loved one can’t take care of themselves (hygiene, eating, moving around) will someone take care of them?
- Do they have a physician that comes to the facility?
- What is their employee screening process?
Choosing a nursing home is a crucial decision and requires some careful thought and consideration. There are many facilities that are of high quality and will provide a great environment for aging senior citizens, but there are also potential hazards that could threaten their life and well-being. Asking questions and doing your own due diligence is one of the best ways to protect your loved ones.