How do I select a safe nursing home for my loved one?
The answer to this question is very long and complicated. That is why we addressed this subject in greater detail in our book How to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe in a Wisconsin Nursing Home, which is available for free on this website. We are not doctors or medical professionals, but we have been involved with a number of families who have had to choose nursing homes, often with mixed results. Given our many years of experience helping families secure and maintain safe nursing care, here are some brief tips:
- Talk with your loved one's doctors to discuss specific needs. Your loved one may need help transferring to and from the toilet or may require assistance with eating or drinking. Once you know what needs must be met you can more easily select the appropriate facility for your family member.
- Have a discussion with social workers who will attend to your loved one to get more information about your nursing home options. If their service is available in your facility, a local social worker can help provide a full range of options for your community.
- Get the survey history of each facility you are considering. Long term care facilities are surveyed by the State of Wisconsin. A survey report is compiled after a survey. These reports are available to the public. You should be able to get copies of all survey reports from the State of Wisconsin Division of Quality Assurance. The facility should also provide you with a copy of its survey history on request. In fact, a copy of the facility's most recent survey might be publicly posted somewhere at the facility. Why is this important? It allows you to get an idea of what the problems a particular facility might have faced. These problems may bear upon what type of care to expect for your loved. Clients have often expressed how they never would have allowed their loved one to be admitted into a facility if they had only known about the problems there. Arm yourself with the power of knowledge - the power to help prevent harm to your loved one.
- Search publicly available information about facilities you are considering. There are an increasing number of on-line sources that publish information about health care facilities’ survey histories, ownership structures and other important information. You may think that you are admitting your loved one to the friendly local nursing home. You may be right - you may be wrong. All too often, our clients feel as though they've been duped. They thought they admitted their loved one to a local facility, only to find that the facility was being operated and controlled by a large nursing home company that is headquartered out-of-state managing hundreds of nursing homes in several states. In other words, these families learned that important decisions that could impact their loved one's health, such as a budget for staffing, training, and even food, were not necessarily being made locally by members of their community but by a distant major corporation.
- Talk with the Administrator, Director of Nursing and other staff at any health care facility you are considering. Any time you have concerns about your loved one's care, raise the concerns. Ensure that your concerns are addressed to your complete satisfaction before you leave your loved one in their care.
- Do not be afraid to say no to a particular facility. Caring for a parent and other loved ones is a stressful, difficult task. When your loved one needs more care than you can provide, you can become physically and emotionally drained. You may also feel guilty because you must trust the care of your loved one to someone outside of your home or your family. These can be very confusing times. You owe it to your loved one to say "no" if you honestly believe, after doing your homework, that a particular facility cannot take care your loved one properly.
These are just a few simple steps that can dramatically improve your chances of finding an appropriate facility to provide caring and compassionate assistance to your loved one.