Ask These Questions When Choosing a Long-Term Care Residence
Making the decision to move from independent or assisted living into a long-term care residence is usually never easy. But asking the questions below can help you sort through the available choices and select the best long-term care residence for your situation.
You can find long-term care residences in your zip code area on Medicare’s website, rated for quality. A five-star quality rating system gives an overall picture of individual residences and points out meaningful differences among them: www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html.
If possible, visit residences and meet their staffs. In your conversations, be sure to cover these questions:
- Is the residence Medicare-approved (certified)?
- Is the nursing home administrator licensed by the state?
- Does the staff possess the necessary credentials to qualify for their professions?
- Is licensed staff on duty, including an RN for all shifts?
- Which level of staff is available to deal with social service needs?
- Is a licensed physician on duty during the day and on call at night?
- Are beds currently available? If not, how long is the waiting list?
- Is there a memory unit for those with dementia, as well as a unit for those who depend on a ventilator?
- Is the residence close enough for family and friends to visit?
- What are the visiting hours?
Quality of Care
- Is a quality of care report available?
- How are any deficiencies being addressed?
- Are the residents clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed?
- Is the facility clean and free of overwhelming or unpleasant odors?
- Are there enough appropriate activities?
- Is the temperature comfortable?
- Are furnishings comfortable, homelike, and safe for residents and visitors?
- Are nutritious snacks available throughout the day?
- Is water readily available at all times?
- Does the residence conduct background checks (including criminal checks) on all staff at the time of hire?
- Does the residence provide ongoing education and training for staff on topics such as recognizing elder abuse, fall prevention, and other age-appropriate topics?
- How does the relationship between staff and residents appear: warm, polite, and respectful?
- What is the staffing ratio of CNAs to residents?
- Does the residence provide rehabilitative services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapies?
- Does the residence provide activities that promote healing and quality of life, including music and art therapies?
- Do the residents have a choice in when and what to eat or in their daily routine?
- Does the residence have an arrangement with a nearby hospital in case of emergency?
Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging (2015).
The Working with Older Adults course offered by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors gives professionals a practical, comprehensive understanding of health, social and financial issues that are important to many older adults, including ethical issues specific to aging. For more information, or to enroll in a class, click here.