50 Secrets a Nursing Home Won't Tell You

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Download our Free Guide to Choosing A Nursing Home
It is always tough deciding on whether to place your elderly parent(s) in a nursing home. You have concerns about their safety, whether they are going to be taken care of properly, if they will receive their medication correctly and how the staff will treat your parent(s).
A recent article in Reader’s Digest provides information to help ensure that your loved ones are happy, cared for and safe.  Some of the highlights are listed below:
© SilviaJansen ¢ “The best time to visit a nursing home you’re considering is 6 p.m. on a Saturday. Dinner has been served, few if any managers will be in the facility, and it’s likely that no marketing people will be there. You’ll get a true picture. Talk to staff and family members of residents about what they like and don’t like.”A California nursing home administrator
¢ œConsider the noise level. Most nursing homes have double rooms, with two patients, each with her own TV, often with dueling channels on, blaring. Sometimes you’ll hear odd cries and calls from residents. Older homes have overhead paging systems that everyone can hear; newer ones have wireless devices that are much less obtrusive. Take a moment on your tour to just listen.”Richard L. Peck,  former editor of Long-Term Living magazine and author of The Big Surprise: Caring for Mom and Dad.
¢ œWhat should you look for? I always say staffing, staffing, staffing. Our recommendation for a daytime staff-to-patient ratio is one to five. One should be a direct caregiver, like an aide. We recommend one to ten during the evening shift, and one to 15 overnight. If you have residents with dementia who need lots of monitoring, you need to staff up.”Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
¢ œIf it smells like urine, that’s obviously a bad sign. But if all you smell is pine cleaner, I’d be a little suspicious about that, too, wondering what odors it’s covering. What you want the place to smell like is a clean home, with no strong scent that’s good or bad.”Richard L. Peck
¢  Make sure you visit during mealtime, since in some places it’s so busy that it’s common for residents to not get enough food or drink.
¢ œCheck out the activity calendar. It shouldn’t have only bingo and movies with popcorn.

¢ œHospital discharge planners will tell you you’ve got 24 to 48 hours to find a nursing home and get out. That’s not true; they need to give you time to make appropriate arrangements. They’re trying to get you out the door because the hospital is paid a flat fee, so if you stay five days instead of three, it’s going to cost the hospital more money. Take the extra time to find a place that offers high-quality care.”Charlene Harrington
¢ œThe marketing person or admissions director will probably give you the tour, but try to meet the director of nursing, the administrator, and the executive director too. Ask how long they’ve worked there. Ask how long their predecessors were there. If it’s less than six months, and you see a pattern, that should be a concern; high administrator turnover can be an indicator of a lower quality of care.”Jody Gastfriend, Vice President of Senior Care Services at Care.com
¢ “Nonprofit nursing homes and government-owned facilities have better staffing, pay better wages, and offer better quality care than for-profit nursing homes. I analyzed all types of nursing homes across the country, and the large, for-profit chains had the worst staffing and were cited for the highest number of deficiencies and severe deficiencies.” Charlene Harrington
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