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How to tell a good nursing home from the bad

Compare Nursing Homes

Finding the best nursing home is easier than you might think. That is assuming there is more than one nursing home in your area so that you have something to compare. The sad part is that the best nursing home is just the one that meets your expectations better than its competitors. That doesn't mean it is a good nursing home, it might even mean that it just isn't the worst.

A good source of information and feedback on local nursing homes is the attending physician for the residents. The staff at the physician' office works closely with the nursing home staff scheduling appointments and transportation, prescribing medication, and treating ailments as well as serious medical conditions. We found the best nursing home for my grandfather from the recommendation of our cardiologist's nurse.

One of the most valuable tools to compare nursing homes is a nursing home report you can get through Check My Nursing Home.com. This report will tell you about complaints against the nursing home, inspections of the nursing home, abuse and neglect cases, and other valuable feedback that potential residents need to be aware of.

This report is definitely a necessity, but the most valuable tool to compare nursing homes is personal interviews with residents, staff members, and family members. Remember when talking to residents and caregivers that we all compare things based on our own perceptions. For example, my grandfather is getting excellent care and unbelievable attention at his nursing home, but thinks he is being abused and neglected because the food is so bad.

Find out what the employees like and don't like about their working environment and employer. The attitude and contentment of the staff will have a direct affect on the care and attention your loved one will receive. Compare nursing homes based on how good of an environment it is for nurses to work in, and you'll get a clearer picture of how good of an environment it is for residents to live in. Ask questions like, "How often do you have to do someone else's work that is not your job?" You'll learn a lot about how work is managed, but most importantly, you'll get a clearer picture of the attitude of the person you are interviewing. Do they have a resentful attitude or a cooperative one? Do they mind helping outside of their job descriptions, or do they see the staff as a team where everyone works together no matter what the task? These keys will give you a good indication of what is going to happen when your loved one needs help going to the potty when the nurse's aide assigned to their room is busy with another resident.

Always ask specific questions to compare programs and care, such as "Tell me about your physical therapy routine, what exercises you do, and how often?" Asking, "How's physical therapy here?" will only provide you with personal opinion. And even if the therapy is excellent-if the resident doesn't like the PT nurse, you're liable to get a negative response. My grandfather hates the resistance bands his physical therapist uses, and really feels stupid sitting there stretching rubber bands. If you asked him what he thought about physical therapy at his nursing home, you are going to get an earful of how it's a useless waste of time. But if you specifically ask him what his physical therapy routine consists of and how often he has physical therapy, you'll get some facts mixed in with the soap box venting.

So to compare nursing homes, visit them personally, ask lots of questions, and interview not only staff, but residents and their families as well. Once you have your choices narrowed down to one or two, order a report on the home to check out what is really happening behind the scenes. And once you've chosen the best nursing home, keep checking on them to make sure the care your loved one receives continues to meet your expectations and their needs.

Shannon Davis is a consumer advocate and freelance writer for the health care, nursing home, and long term care industry. What does Shannon have to say about your local nursing home? Visit http://www.checkmynursinghome.com


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