With all the restrictions imposed by COVID 19, those of us with family and friends residing in nursing homes have become acutely aware of the importance of quality nursing home care. Not only are sanitation and quality medical care important, but so are social, physical, and spiritual opportunities. The COVID virus has put a microscope on nursing homes and forced all of us to rethink the definition of quality care for our seniors. While not all older Americans require nursing home care, the vast majority do or will at some point in their life. Because May is designated as National Older Americans Month, this is a good time to focus on ways we can make life a little better for the generation who paved the way for us, particularly for those who are more vulnerable and require nursing home care. If you or a loved one are considering a move to a nursing home, here are some specific questions you should ask each facility:
1. What services do you provide? Specially, what type of social programs are offered and with what frequency; are there worship sessions and, if so, how often do they occur; what type of physical activities are available; are beauty services provided; etc…
2. What is the staff to resident ratio on each shift? It’s also important to ask about skilled staff turnover rate. A well run institution will have a lower staff turnover rate. Be sure to inquire about screening for criminal records, drug use, etc... for employees.
3. How much time do nurses and aides spend with residents daily?
4. What services are available for the resident as their nursing care requirements increase? Is there a separate unit for advanced dementia care?
5. Is the facility current on their licensing and accreditations? Ask to see written verification of such. Is the facility certified by Medicaid and Medicare? If so, how long has the certification been in place?
6. Visit the dining room during meal times and ask to see the menu for the prior month. Ask how food is delivered to bed-ridden patients and how long it takes for delivery.
7. Will the resident share a room or bathroom and if so, how is the roommate selection process conducted? If a resident wants to change roommates, what is the procedure for this?
8. What is included in the cost of care vs. how are “extra” charges billed?
9. How is transportation handled for non-emergency services, such as dialysis? What about for shopping or religious services?
10. What is the visitation policy?
11. What bathing facilities are available and how is bathing handled if the resident needs assistance? How often are residents bathed?
12. Get a copy of the admission documents and contracts prior to signing, so that you can conduct a thorough review. You may even want to have your attorney read through the documents before you sign. If the nursing facility refuses to allow you the chance to review the documents prior to signing, you should consider rejecting the facility as an option for your loved one.
13. Does the resident’s doctor serve this facility? Or is there a doctor who keeps regular hours with the facility?
14. What is the sanitation process for the facility and how often are cleanings done?
There are many more questions you could ask that specifically address your individual concerns, but this list a good place to start. Don’t forget you can ask friends or neighbors with experience placing a loved one in a nursing facility for their suggestions or recommendations. Online reviews are also a good place to research client experiences.
We encourage you to have an advocate assist you through the process of selecting a nursing home, especially if you have concerns about your ability to private pay for the services. Your local Area Agency on Aging can assist you with information on nursing homes in your area and help connect you with elder law attorneys who can review contracts, advise on Medicaid planning, and develop long-term care plans to address financial concerns.
For more information on long-term care or Medicaid planning, contact Davis & McCann, P. A., Dodge City, KS. We are members of Wealth Counsel, a national consortium of Estate Planning Attorneys and NAELA. We focus our practice on providing clients with the best legal advice on estate planning, Medicaid and Long-term Care Planning, Special Needs Planning, Family Business/Small Business Succession Planning, Probate, Trust Administration, Real Estate Transactions, and related matters.
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