No matter your reason for looking into long-term care, here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a nursing home or care facility:
•Consider. What is important to you—nursing care, meals, physical therapy, a faith community, hospice care, or Special Care Units for dementia patients? Do you want a place close to family and friends so they can easily visit?
•Ask. Talk with friends, relatives, social workers, and your faith community to find out what places they suggest. Check with healthcare providers about which care facility they recommend. Use their suggestions to make a list of places that offer the services you want.
•Call. Get in touch with each place on your list. Ask questions about how many people live there and what it costs. Find out •about waiting lists.
Visit. Make plans to meet with the director and the nursing director. The Medicare Nursing Home Checklist has some good ideas to consider when visiting.
•Talk. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You might want to find out how long the director and heads of nursing, food, and social services departments have worked at the care facility. If key members of the staff change often, that may mean there’s something wrong.
•Visit again. Make a second visit without calling ahead. Try another day of the week or time of day so you will meet other staff members and see different activities. Stop by at mealtime. Is the dining room attractive and clean? Does the food look tasty?
•Understand. Once you select a nursing home, carefully read the contract. Ask the director or assistant director about anything you don’t understand. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read over the contract before you sign it.