Nursing Homes: An insider's seven tips to choosing one
Nursing homes are a necessary part of society these days. If you are facing the difficulty of choosing one for yourself or a loved one, here are seven things to look for.
As someone who has had to place her parents in nursing homes and as a certified nursing assistant with hosppice and nursing home experience, I came up with this list of questions that most check-lists don't include.
1. How many people staff each shift? Even the most highly rated nursing homes are short staffed on the midnight shift and one weekends. A nightshift employee may have to care for 15 patients or more per shift, including toileting duties, changing soiled clothing and/or linens, answering alarm bells and helping other attendants who need help moving larger patients.
2. What qualifications do your employees have? At one nursing home I know of, the assistant director of nursing (ADON), the second-ranking medical employee on staff, did not have a nursing degree. During one medical crisis she calmly sat by while the aide (who typically receives only minimal training) performed the life-saving maneuvers needed.
3. Are there gloves in the room? Medical costs are soaring and medical facilities must cut corners wherever they can. However, one nursing home cut costs by only replenishing gloves once a month. Althought the attendants are supposed to wash their hands and change gloves for each procedure (and certainly for each new patient), at one point this facility ran out of gloves. The attendants had to choose whether to work barehanded or supply their own gloves (at their own expense). Most attendants receive very low wages. Be sure to look for gloves when you inspect the room.
4. Will the family be informed of changes in medical condition? In one case, the patient's family spotted symptoms of a kidney infection and told the medical staff. However, within a month, the patient died of a second kidney infection. The family was never informed of the how the first kidney infection was being treated or about the second infection.
5. How do employees relate to each other and their patients? If at all possibile, visit the facility several times at different shifts. If the staff seems surly and overworked, choose a different facility.
6. How does the facility smell? Some facilities have an overpowering urine smell. If you smell it, even in the entrance, then it is likely the patients are not toileted enough. Not only is the smell unpleasant, it is the sign of a health risk.
7. Does the facility seem crowded? As a cost-cutting move, some facilities are housing three or even four patients in a room meant for two. Crowded facilities are dangerous in the event of an emergency and are unpleasant for both the patients and the staff.
These are some of the important questions to ask when looking at a nursing home. Each state has its own regulations, but be sure to report any suspicious findings. Our senior citizens deserve the best care possible.