How to Evaluate a Nursing Home! Pros and Cons to consider
Are you considering a nursing home for a frail loved one? Not sure of how to look? Read below for help!
Hi, Joanna Leefer, here, your senior care advisor.
My husband, Paul and I have started our search for a nursing home for his 96-year-old mother, Lillian. Lillian is still living at home with home health aides, but her Alzheimer’s is becoming more pronounced and we might need to place her in a skilled nursing facility.
I promised to keep you posted as Paul and I search for a facility. Here is the result of our first tour. Just to warn you, I am not going to rate any of the facilities we tour. My intent is to help you understand how to evaluate a facility.
Here are our search criteria. I discussed this in a previous entry. Paul and I are looking for a place that is:
- No more than a 45-minute trip from our home in Brooklyn.
- Accessible to public transportation, i.e. the NYC subway system, although we are willing to drive– if there is guaranteed parking.
- Has a dementia program. Lillian is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s and we want her to have plenty of activities and stimuli.
The first facility is in Manhattan. I met at a hospital discharge planner at a professional conference who mentioned she sends many of her hospital patients to this facility so on her referral we decided to start with this one.
We called before visiting to determine if we had to schedule a tour. The admissions office informed us they conduct tours on Saturday mornings. So we signed up.
Here are our impressions:
This nursing home is a large multi-story facility not far from a major subway station. The building is large and clean, with a fenced in sitting area in front for residents and visitors. It is beautifully landscaped with café style tables with large umbrellas to protect sitters from the sun. This is a nice touch.
Before we go to the admissions office, Paul and I sign in at the front desk. This is another good sign. The facility is obviously concerned for the security of its occupants and insures that random people cannot enter.
We meet three other visitors who are interested in the facility. One is only interested in the rehabilitation equipment. Her mother is due to be discharged from the hospital the next day. Our guide, Alma (not her real name) suggests we visit this floor first.
We wait for 10 minutes for an elevator to arrive even though there are six elevators banks. This is a bad sign. Who wants to spend half their day in a facility waiting for an elevator? I stash this bit of information away along with my other two impressions—two pluses, one minus.
The elevator we enter is packed. Fortunately most of the people are going to the rehab floor so it is a direct trip. When the doors opened, my first impression is…I had entered the streets of Mumbai.
The rehab floor is so crowded with equipment, wheel chairs, patients standing in lines, staff moving patients from one part of the room to another it is hard to get around. I have been in rehab facilities before, but this was the most packed I’ve ever seen and way to crowded for me.
On the plus side, I spoke with one physical therapist who appeared to be quite concerned with his patients and spends as much time as he can with them. This is nice, but I doubt if he can change the feel of the whole department. We say goodbye to the woman who wanted to see the rehab segment, then after waiting another 10 minute an elevator arrives and we travel up to a residents’ floor.
Paul and I are not impressed with the rehab but Lillian will not be here, so we are keeping our minds open. This is the beginning of our search. I will tell you more in my next post.
Much of this information and more will be included in my upcoming book: Almost like Home, A Family’s Guide to Navigating the Nursing Home Maze. The book will be available this fall and I will be offering an early bird special price. Sign up for future updates.
Next week I will discuss our impression of the residents’ floors.
Until next time.
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