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Learning Center Experience
By Susan Archibald, PhDKaplan University, School of Health Sciences
If the time
comes when a family needs to choose a facility for the long-term care of a
loved one, how should that choice be made? Location? Cost? Survey ratings? Activities
available? All of the above?
Choosing the right place can be a difficult
decision, but there are some things that you can do to make an informed
all, you need to know just what kind of care your loved one needs. That can be determined
with the help of the physician and others who are familiar with the person. For
instance, a person may need some help with taking medicines and making meals,
or may thrive in a lower level of care, like an assisted living facility.
If it is decided that a nursing
home is the correct placement, then you need to find the place that best meets
the needs of the individual and his or her family. Start by making a list of the
facilities that are in the immediate area. Ask the physician, hospital discharge
planner (if the patient is in the hospital), friends, and others about their
experiences with the available facilities. Ask what they liked and what they
didn’t like. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience will be different and
focus on different areas of the placement.
Once you have determined what is
available, take a look at the evaluations of the facility. Medicare provides a
resource for this that is reliable at Medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare. However,
don’t stop there! Visit the facilities that you think may be a good fit. Ask
questions of the staff and chat with some of the residents. Keep these
questions in mind during your visit:
Keep an open mind—residents are there because they need
help, and some may be dealing with complex medical and/or mental issues. What
you want to do is get a feel for is the attitude
of the facility.
At this point, you will want to
determine the costs involved with each facility. Medicare pays for short-term
rehabilitation in some cases. Medicaid helps those who do not have the
necessary financial resources. Long-term care insurance may pay for some of the
costs. If the person has adequate financial resources, bills can be paid by the
individual. For this conversation, you need to speak directly to the person in
charge of finances in the nursing home. Ask to see the charges in writing.
Don’t neglect to inquire about all
the things that make life pleasant!
You will also want to know how
often the doctor visits, who the doctor will be (if not a regular physician),
and what hospital the facility uses. Are medicines covered in the base price? If
a question comes to mind, ask it! The facilities should be happy that you are
interested enough to ask, and should be willing to completely respond to every
Finally, ask the person showing you
the facility to tell you about what a typical day will look like for your loved
one. Here are some questions to consider:
Remember, you want to be sure the facility is a home, not
just a nursing home.
Many facilities offer specialized
care: Alzheimer’s or dementia units, veterans only, rehabilitation units,
ventilator units, and others. Make sure the facility you choose has the
capability to provide the level of care needed. Ask about care plan meetings
(where the patient’s plan for care is determined, then monitored), the
frequency of meetings, and if you and your loved one can attend (the answer
should be “yes!”). Also find out if anyone else attends the meetings.
Once you choose the facility that
best meets the needs of your loved one, there is still work to be done. Be a
familiar face. Get to know the staff, particularly the nurses and nursing
assistants who provide the majority of care. Visit as often as possible. Encourage
others to visit as appropriate. Get to know the other residents. Attend the
Care Plan meetings. Join the Family Council if they have one.
Relax into your
new role as visitor, the person who comes in to spend quality time with the
resident. Let your loved one know that her or she is still a part of the
family. All of your hard work will be rewarded when you see your loved one well
taken care of and content.
Implementing “Obamacare”: An Update
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If you are interested in pursuing a position in long-term care as an administrator or manager in a nursing home, we invite you to explore our Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration or Master of Health Care Administration. The programs are designed to offer a solid foundation in the leadership, finance, and organizational skills necessary for success. Upon graduation, those wishing to obtain a position as a nursing home administrator should check their state requirements, as they vary from state to state.Susan Archibald, PhD, is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University. The contents of this article are presented for informational purposes only. Always check with a health care professional with any questions you may have regarding caregiving issues.
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