How to be smart in selecting a nursing home

Selecting a nursing home or assisted living facility for yourself or a family member is an important decision involving many considerations. You need to find a facility that provides high quality care, a welcoming environment, and a location close to other family members and friends.  Ease in selection will be harder and harder as more and more of us are getting older.   According to a recent article in the U.S. News  & World  Report, roughly 9.5 million people in the U.S. will turn 85 over the next 10 years. That’s an average of more than 2,600 each day. And unless they are a lot healthier than today’s 85-year-olds, every day hundreds of them and their families will be looking for spaces in the nation’s 18,000 to 20,000 nursing homes.

Download our Free Guide to Choosing A Nursing Home
Download our Free Guide to Choosing A Nursing Home
It is recommended that families should start early to identify attractive and affordable nursing facilities.  Many don’t realize that there are lots of helpful online tools. Medicare provides a national ranking of nursing homes through its online Nursing Home Compare  a website run by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. These rankings cover more than 15,000 nursing facilities that are certified and participate in Medicare and Medicaid. They are based on the results of health inspections, levels of professional staffing and a set of  19 care qualtiy measures that includes the incidence of residents’ bed sores, pain, falls, depression, incontinence and certain drug treatments.  There is another wesbsite called the Care Giver List that covers the entire country.  This website covers approximately 18,000 facilities which are rated not only on the Medicare data but on regular phone calls with each home. Many so-called “private-pay” facilities do not accept Medicaid patients, for example, but are included in the Caregiverlist ratings.  Caregiverlist also  identifies homes where access may be restricted”to people with certain acute needs, for example, or for veterans, or for patients of a specific hospital that runs the facility. And Caregiver list may also include retirement communities with nursing facilities, where access to nursing services may be limited to community residents.
Florida has several websites that can help families locate the best facility for their loved one.  Florida Healthcare Association’s website has several links to various websites that can help one find a nursing home.   The FHCA Facility assists individuals with finding find a health care, long term care or rehabilitation facility. Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) Health Information Site provides proximity and provider type searches for Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and many other health care providers licensed by AHCA.  AHCA also has another site that provides a Nursing Home Guide which lists nursing homes by region and county.  The Guide also includes facility-specific comparative information including a star ranking based upon deficiencies cited during inspections. The electronic version of the Guide is updated quarterly and posted on the Agency’s web site approximately 45 days after the end of the calendar quarter (by the 15th calendar day of the second month following the end of the calendar quarter). The Nursing Home Guide includes a Watch List which identifies nursing homes that are operating under bankruptcy protection or met the criteria for a conditional status during the past 30 months. A conditional status indicates that a facility did not meet, or correct upon follow-up, minimum standards at the time of an inspection. Immediate action is taken if a facility poses a threat to resident health or safety. ( /) Also, the Nursing Home Guide provides links to copies of regular inspection and complaint inspection reports.  ()

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