Choosing a nursing home is a race against time. In "The Greatest Race" style, the hospital social worker sets the rules. From the crack of the gun (not literally), you have one or two days to look for clues and find the right place.
How do you choose a good nursing home for your aging parent? Following a friend's advice may work. But don't take it as gospel truth without investigating, especially if his or her report isn't recent. Neither can you assume the nursing home your parent used for rehab three years ago is still a good choice.
Claudia Kelley, an occupational therapist with the State of Washington, spent more than a decade working in health care centers. But she admits she was caught off guard when her grandma was hospitalized for the second time. The family had been pleased with Grandma's earlier rehab experience at Nursing Home A, so they automatically chose it again.
"I couldn't believe the difference. You'd hardly know it was the same building," Claudia said. Between Grandma's two stays, administrators had changed. Organization plummeted, and staff now spent more time gossiping than caring for residents.
How do you check on a nursing home that you've been pleased with in the past or a friend has recommended? Some suggestions.
1. Call the nursing home and ask, "How long has your current administrator been working there?" or ask, "Is Administrator Jones still overseeing care?"
2. Double check your experience or your friend's recommendation by visiting the Medicare website which rates nursing home quality.
3. A personal visit is always a good idea, if possible.
Do you have any other suggestions for choosing a nursing home?