What Questions Should You Ask A Nursing Home?

Submitted by Easy Retirement Living

Published on January 11, 2024

Part of choosing a nursing home is to ask the right questions. While there should be a couple of things you look at before shortlisting a nursing home, once you have that shortlist ready, you will want to prepare a series of questions. The right answers to the questions will help you determine what nursing facility is right for your loved one.

The fact is that when choosing a nursing home, you can’t solely rely on facility tours or reading glossy promotional brochures. If anything, this is a significant decision, which is why you’d want to take your time to make the right choice.

Below is a list of questions you should ask the nursing home administrator when choosing a nursing home from the ones you short-listed.


Do Nursing Home Residents (your family members) Have Bathrooms In Their Rooms?

This is an important question to ask, especially if you want a private room. Many times the private room will not have a bathroom, which means that the person will need to be taken to another outside their room. Also, private rooms and bathrooms in them are much safer than rooms with multiple residents. In private rooms having a bathroom means that the person in question has a degree of privacy and can maintain their sense of self-respect.


How Many Covid Cases Would Trigger A Lockdown of The Nursing Home?

We accept that lockdowns are no longer the norm, but there is always the potential that there may be a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. Plus, switch out COVID for any other virus; the idea here is to know what measures the facilities have in place to limit the spread of the infection.


What Are The Current Restrictions Or Policies For A Family Member?

As the pandemic has eased, many nursing homes have also eased visitor restrictions, meaning families can visit residents in person. But some facilities are still limiting visits and require visitors to wear masks or answer questions before moving ahead to visit their loved ones. However, you will want to know about this ahead of time.


What’s The Facility’s Staffing Ratio?

The answer to this question should be researched before you ask it. Fortunately, you can find staffing data divided by state for every individual facility. The data includes hourly wages for registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, and licensed practical assistants.

The acuity level of the resident will mainly merit how complex caring for them will be and what type of assistance is mandated for daily activities. The minimum threshold is primarily set at 4.1 hours of care daily, mainly for residents with low acuity. So, the question is, does the nursing home have that staff? Nursing directors will probably be in the best position to answer this question since it pertains to their staff.


What Is The Nursing Staff Turnover?

You want to enroll in a nursing home that does not have a very high turnover. Stable staffing is a sign that the facility is run by competent management and that the staff is happy. Sure, you want to make sure that the nursing home is certified, but quality care is just as important. Plus, the same caregivers are assigned to the same people regularly means that they develop an understanding which allows them to identify and address issues accurately.


Which Higher Level Services Are Provided?

Apart from board, room and caregiving, you will want to inquire about other essential services included in the monthly rates. Suppose the person in question is undergoing rehab to perhaps recover from an arm dislocation or knee accident. In that case, they will need a higher level of care than some nursing homes can provide. That’s why you’d want to choose a facility that has an experienced rehabilitation staff on hand. Even though the nursing home is certified, it does not mean that they have staff members that can handle it.


Is The Staff Trained At Handling Complex Health Problems?

Residents could have many different health and clinical issues that need to be addressed. Those with complex health issues may be better off in a nursing home surrounded by qualified staff that know how to help them.

Conditions like obstructive pulmonary disease, or what’s referred to as COPD, will require that patients undertake respiratory therapy and will need to be provided oxygen. But can the facility handle this level of medical care?


What Steps Do You Take To Prevent Sores?

Now, this is an essential question for anyone who has a family with mobility issues. So, in addition to asking about care protocols, you will also want to determine what on-site equipment they have, like a special mattress to relieve pressure points. Generally, residents will have to spend time out of bed during the day or for as long as possible. Those who need to spend most of their time in bed should be assisted when moving from one side to the next. This will also include gentle limb movements to avoid immobility-related issues and relieve sores and overall long-term muscle deterioration. Plus, regular medical appointments may also be needed.


What if I Can’t Pay The Monthly Fee Because I’ve Run Out Of Money?

We’ve read numerous instances of forced nursing home evictions from across the US. So, this isn’t unusual. That’s why you will want to inquire about what safeguards are in place for residents and how to contact the state’s ombudsman’s office should be posted and easy to find in the facility

All states have long-term ombudsmen who advocate for nursing home residents and other facilities. The same residents may also want to inquire about other issues pertaining to their rights.


What Care Do You Provide To The Elderly With Dementia?

It is worth understanding that the term “memory care” means more than just locking up a resident, so they don’t leave. Caregivers need to be specially trained in all forms of dementia care, in addition to sensitivity and awareness training.


Final Word

Specific medical training, in addition to well-being assessment, should always be on the cards, along with good staffing ratios. The facility should also have good infection control measures with trained facility staff that are beyond nurses and doctors.


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