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How To Choose The Right Nursing Home For Your Loved One

foundations nursing home

Clearing Up the Terminology

Nursing Homes are sometimes referred to as a SNF or a skilled nursing facility. In the state of Ohio there are more than 950 skilled nursing facilities. While nursing homes are often called assisted living, independent living, and senior living, a nursing home servest the highest level of acuity, or care needs in comparision to these other types of older adult care facilities. Further, nursing homes are much more regulated than assisted living and independent living facilities per the requirements of being medicare and medicaid certified.

Skilled nursing services include, but are not limited to wound care, intravenous therapy (IV), physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, monitoring of vital signs, ventilator care, tracheostomy care, cancer therapies, medication injections, and more.

SKilled nursing facilities are staffed by registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), state-tested nursing assistants (STNA), licensed speech, physical, and occupational therapists, dieticians, licensed social workers, and licensed nursing home administrators, as well as more non-nursing support staff that provides care for residents and families each day.

What should I look for when touring a nursing home?

When touring a nursing home and finding out if it is the right place to care for you or your loved one, you do not need to know a complex set of guidelines or questions to ask. However, it is wise to observe the environment and interactions in the facility as you take your tour.

  • Are you greeted with a smile?
  • Is the lobby organized? 
  • Is medical equipment left unattended?
  • Is furniture clean and dusted? 
  • Are residents clean and engaged with staff? 
  • Are call lights answered in a timely manner? 
  • Is your tour guide engaged with residents and checking on people as she/he walks by? 
  • Look at rooms as you walk by, are they clean and organized? 
  • Are any smells being addressed? 
  • Are department heads, (Director of Nursing, Social Service, Dietary Manager, Therapy Manager) engaging with you as you walk by and asking if you have questions? 
  • Are the Nursing Assistants greeting you in the hallways?

Do Your Homework.

While it won't tell you the whole story, and the system is perfect for speaking of quality, research Nursing Home Compare and find out the star rating. If you know the star rating of the facility before touring, ask the Director of Nursing, or the Licensed Nursing Home Administrator about their current star rating and quality measures ranking. See if they are familiar with how they fare, and have an active plan to improve key areas.

Asking Questions Regarding Staffing

While it is important to know that nursing homes will be staffed with enough caregivers to tend to your loved one's needs, it is important to know that the ideal answer to the staffing question is not a specific STNA to patient ratio, or nurse to patient ratio. With the increase clinical complexity that nursing homes provide care for today, what is more important than a number of residents to care for, is that the facility staffs to effectively meet the acuity of each of its residents. In short, these staffing ratios should vary based on clinical complexity. For example, a resident that needs little assistance with activities of daily living requires less clinical oversight than a resident receiving ventilator care. Therefore, nursing homes focused on quality outcomes will not staff based on math, but rather on ensuring there are enough caregivers to meet the specific needs of each resident, and this can change each day with a growing or declining census, as well as with the improvements or decline in the health of each resident in the facility.

Did You Make a Connection?

Ask yourself:
  • Are you at ease with the staff you have met?
  • Can you be assured that these people will be advocates for your loved one during their stay?
  • Is the atmosphere as you toured calm, contented and professional?
  • Did anyone ask you personal questions regarding your loved one
  • Did your tour guide take his/her time and answer any questions, understanding that this decision is an emotional and difficult one

Finishing the Tour

There are a multitude of questions and concerns that will come your way when you find yourself looking for the right place for your loved one. At the end of the tour, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with your tour guide and the people you met that make up a part of the team that will be caring for your loved one. Are you more at ease than when you first entered the building?

Foundations Health Solutions is here to help you find the right place for your loved one. With 56 skilled nursing facilities across Ohio, we are here to help you make the right decision for your loved one's next step. If you have any questions, please reach out below.

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