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What Caregivers Should Know About Nursing Home Care

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Nursing Home Checklist

  • Does the nursing home provide the level of care needed?
  • Does the nursing home meet local and/or state licensing requirements?
  • Does the nursing home's administrator have an up-to-date license?
  • Does the nursing home meet state fire regulations (including a sprinkler system, fire-resistant doors, and a plan for evacuating residents)?
  • What are the visiting hours?
  • What is the policy on insurance and personal property?
  • What is the procedure for responding to a medical emergency?

Admission

  • Is there a waiting period for admittance?
  • What are the admission requirements?

Fees and financing

  • Are fees competitive?
  • Have fees increased significantly in the past few years?
  • Is the fee structure easy to understand?
  • What are the billing, payment, and credit policies?
  • Are there different costs for various levels or categories of services?
  • Are the billing and accounting procedures understandable?
  • Does the nursing home reveal what services are covered in the quoted fee and what services are extra?
  • What governmental financing options are accepted (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and others)?
  • When may a contract be terminated? What is the refund policy?

Needs assessment

  • Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?
  • What is the procedure for assessing a potential resident's need for services? Are those needs reassessed periodically?

Professional staff

  • Do the nurses, social workers, and administrators have geriatric experience and/or education?
  • Are staff members available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
  • Do staff members seem to genuinely enjoy working with the residents?
  • Do staff members treat residents as individuals?
  • Is staff available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?
  • Does a doctor or nurse visit the resident regularly to provide medical checkups? 
  • Do residents appear happy and comfortable?
  • Do residents, other visitors, and volunteers speak favorably about the nursing home?
  • Are residents clean and adequately dressed?
  • Are the rights of residents clearly posted?

Facility design

  • Do you like the appearance of the building and its surroundings?
  • Is the decor attractive and home-like?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Do doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are elevators available?
  • Are handrails available?
  • Are shelves easy to reach?
  • Are carpets secured and floors made of a non-skid material?
  • Is there good natural and artificial lighting?
  • Is the residence clean, odor free, and appropriately heated/cooled?
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