Many people are faced with the tough decision of putting a loved one in a long-term care facility. While we have all heard nursing home horror stories of residents not receiving proper care, not all long-term care facilities are like this. There are many nursing homes that provide a great atmosphere and deliver exceptional care to their residents, but how do you know which ones? You obviously need to take a tour of the facility before committing to anything, and the best way to do this is to show up during regular business hours unannounced. By calling ahead of time you are giving them time to make the facility look more appealing, however, if you show up unannounced and ask for a tour you will be able to see exactly how everything really is. Here are the aspects you need to pay attention to and evaluate to find the best facility for your loved one.
Is There an Odor?
While you tour the facility, it is very important to note any odors. While occasionally it is unavoidable, a constant smell of urine or feces is a huge red flag. These odors are indicators that either residents are not receiving adequate care, waste is not being disposed of properly, or that the building is not being properly sanitized. These problems are signs that the facility is probably not providing the best environment for its residents.
How is the Noise?
A nursing home is usually a pretty busy place, so a certain level of noise is to be expected, however, it shouldn't be too loud. If you have to raise your voice to be heard, it's too loud. An excessive amount of noise on a regular basis can make adjusting to a nursing home very hard for many residents. The activity rooms and dining rooms will most likely be noisier areas so don't get too worried if these areas are loud. The hallways should be at a moderate to quite noise level depending on the number of residents in the hall at any given time. The rooms are where the noise level should really be given consideration since this is where residents will sleep. The resident rooms should have minimal noise as compared to other areas to promote good rest and to give your loved one somewhere to do quiet activities such as reading, watching tv, and any other solitary activities they enjoy.
Where are the Nurses?
One of the most important aspects of a good nursing home is the staff. The nurses and CNA's are going to have the most day-to-day contact with your loved one. During your tour, keep your eyes open for the nurses and CNA's and pay attention to how many you see, what they are doing, and how friendly they seem to the residents and visitors.
While you are touring the facility you should encounter a few CNA's and nurses. If you don't, the facility is probably not properly staffed. If the staff is overworked, there is a good chance that the residents are not receiving proper, timely, care. This is one of the biggest warning signs that your loved one might not receive adequate care at that facility.
If you do encounter a few nurses and CNA's pay attention to what they are saying. Listen to how they interact with the residents, they should be polite and accommodating. Also pay attention to how they talk to each other. Hearing phrases such as "I hate this job," "I can't wait to have a day off," or "I'm tired of being short-handed," are big red flags that the staff is unhappy with the facility. If the staff is unhappy, chances are the residents are too.
Is It Clean?
This one is pretty straightforward, no one wants to live in an unsanitary place. While on your tour check bathrooms, residents rooms, counters, tables, handrails and floors for cleanliness. If there are a lot of unclean area's, it is not a great long-term care facility. The building isn't the only thing you should be checking for cleanliness. Take a look at the current residents and check for things like food on the wheelchair's, unclean clothes, and food on hands and face. The residents at a good nursing home will be clean, if they are not, you do not want your loved one there.
How is the Food?
Your loved one will be eating 3 meals a day at the long-term care facility that you choose, so make sure you observe the meals served during your tour. Check for things like: Do they offer options? Meal choices are great because let's face it, not everyone likes the same foods. Are the meals well-balanced? The elderly can become malnourished easily, so make sure the meals that are being offered are nutritious. Are there a variety of fluids offered? Dehydration is a big problem in elderly people so making sure that the facility is offering adequate amounts and varieties of fluids at each meal is important.
These guidelines will help you to make an informed choice on which long-term care facility is right for your loved one. If the odor, noise, staff, sanitation, and food are all up to par, the facility is probably a good one to consider.