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Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home (Part VI)

Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) has published a booklet entitled "How to Choose a Nursing Home."

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    • The importance of planning ahead
  • First Considerations
    • Do you need a nursing home?
    • Quality-of-life/quality-of-care issues
  • Beginning the Search
    • Identifying important resources
    • Understanding your needs and wants
  • Visiting a Nursing Home
    • When to visit Who to talk to What to ask
  • Making the Selection
    • Payment considerations Medicare/Medicaid coverage
    • Long-term care insurance
    • Reviewing the contract
  • Nursing Home Checklist
    (Consider printing this checklist to take with you on your visits.)

Nursing Home Checklist

When you visit a nursing home, you should carry this checklist with you It will help you to compare one facility with another, but remember to compare facilities certified in the same category for example, a skilled nursing facility with another skilled nursing home Because nursing homes may be licensed in more than one category, always compare similar types of service among facilities.

Look at Daily Life

Home A
Yes No

Home B
Yes No

1.Do residents seem to enjoy being with staff?

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2. Are most residents dressed for the season and time of day?

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3. Does staff know the residents by name?

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4. Does staff respond quickly to resident calls for assistance?

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5. Are activities tailored to residents' individual needs and interests?

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6. Are residents involved in a variety of activities?

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7. Does the home serve food attractively?

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8. Does the home consider personal food likes and dislikes in planning meals?

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9. Does the home use care in selecting roommates?

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10 Does the nursing home have a resident's council? If it does, does the council influence decisions about resident life?

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11 Does the nursing home have a family council? If it does, does the council influence decisions about resident life?

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12 Does the facility have contact with community groups, such as pet therapy programs and Scouts?

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Look at Care Residents Receive

Home A
Yes No

Home B
Yes No

1. Do various staff and professional experts participate in evaluating each resident's needs and interests?

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2. Does the resident or his or her family participate in developing the resident's care plan?

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3. Does the home offer programs to restore lost physical functioning (for example, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy)?

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4. Does the home have any special services that meet your needs? For example, special care units for residents with dementia or with respiratory problems?

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5. Does the nursing home have a program to restrict the use of physical restraints?

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6. Is a registered nurse available for nursing staff?

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7. Does the nursing home have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?

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Look at How the Nursing Home Handles Payment

Home A
Yes No

Home B
Yes No

1. Is the facility certified for Medicare?

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2. Is the facility certified for Medicaid?

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3. Is the resident or the resident's family informed when charges are increased?

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Look at the Environment

Home A
Yes No

Home B
Yes No

1. Is the outside of the nursing home clean and in good repair?

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2. Are there outdoor areas accessible for residents to use?

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3. Is the inside of the nursing home clean and in good repair?

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4. Does the nursing home have handrails in hallways and grab bars in bathrooms?

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5. When floors are being cleaned, are warning signs displayed, or are areas blocked off to prevent accidents?

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6. Is the nursing home free from unpleasant odors?

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7. Are toilets convenient to bedrooms?

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8. Do noise levels fit the activities that are going on?

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9. Is it easy for residents in wheelchairs to move around the home?

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10 Is the lighting appropriate for what residents are doing?

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11 Are there private areas for residents to visit with family, visitors, or physicians?

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12 Are residents' bedrooms furnished in a pleasant manner?

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13 Do the residents have some personal items in their bedrooms (for example, family pictures, souvenirs, a chair)?

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14 Do the residents' rooms have accessible storage areas for residents' personal items?

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Other Things to Look For

Home A
Yes No

Home B
Yes No

1. Does the nursing home have a good reputation in the community?

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2. Does the nursing home have a list of references?

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3. Is the nursing home convenient for family or friends to visit?

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4. Does the local ombudsman visit the facility regularly

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