Choosing a long-term care home for aging relatives

It’s a sad fact that there comes a time for nearly everyone when home care or assisted living are no longer an option, making it time to consider long-term care homes. It’s no easy task – finding a care or nursing home for your aging relatives can be one of the most stressful and heart-breaking things you may ever have to do.

However, there are many reputable, high-quality care homes for those willing to look, although the search is often made too quickly and under pressure. More than half of care home admissions are made by hospitals, which can provide high-quality short-term care but are often under duress to discharge their patients quickly. This can often result in patients who require long-term rehabilitation to be admitted into lower-quality care homes.

Whilst you may be running out of time to research local care homes, you should be able to find a good quality home for your loved one by making the most of the time you have and keeping some of the following tips in mind:

Research the data

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid compile data on 15,000+ care and nursing homes throughout the country every year. Homes are given between one and five stars based on health inspection data, staff, general wellbeing of residents and other quality measures.

Compiled data and statistics such as these can be a great place to begin researching, but do bear in mind that ranking and inspections have their limits and only reflect the quality of the facilities over certain durations. In addition to this, the system allows only 10 per cent of graded homes to earn a five-star rating, meaning a less expensive four-star nursing home that just missed the percentage quota might be just as good, if not better, than another five-star home.

Visit local care homes

Whilst professional ratings and reviews are a good place to start, they’re no substitute for first-hand observations. Before admitting your aging relative to a care home, take the time out to go and take a look yourself. Ensure the home is clean and that the staff are friendly and polite to you and the residents. Talk with the executive director, head nurse, lead physician and any other lead staff members to get further insight into the home. Ask if the facility engages in person-centred care, which allows patients to set their own schedules. It’s also important to enquire about consistent assignment, meaning the same staff members treat the same patients on every shift. These are two of the top concerns in the long-term care industry, so any reputable care home will be able to give you an answer when asked about them.

Consult your ombudsman

Every state in the U.S. has a long-term care ombudsman who is an authority on long-term care homes and an advocate of nursing home residents. They are qualified to give information on health inspections, staffing, quality of care and any significant changes in any given care home. You can find your state’s ombudsman at the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.

Dane Cross writes on behalf of Maria Mallaband Care Group, one of the UK’s leading care home providers, renowned for offering luxurious, modern facilities and high-quality services.

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