The most important things are...
1. Safety. Are there safety measures in place to prevent falls like handrails on the beds, grab bars and call lights? Are hallways well-lit and free of clutter? In the event of a fall, how does the staff react? Do they asses the resident for visible injuries initially, as well as internal injuries after the fact? Do they notify the family immediately and work with them to adjust the care plan to prevent falls in the future? A facility that is proactive about safety and fall prevention can help ease family members’ nerves that their loved one is receiving quality care.
2. Quality of life. Do they engage in resident centered care or what type of culture do they practice? Are residents able to create their own schedules, i.e. go to bed, bathe, and eat when they want? Is the food appealing and to the resident’s liking? Are there indoor and outdoor activities available for residents to participate in? Although they may be unable to care for themselves, their individuality should never be compromised.
3. Cost. It’s no secret that long-term care can be very expensive. Pricing can vary depending on the location of the facility, type of care a resident may need, semiprivate vs. private room, etc. Deciding whether to pay for care out-of-pocket, through Medicare/Medicaid or long-term care insurance is personal, and options vary depending on the value of assets and level of income. To find more information on how to pay for long-term care, please visit www.longtermcare.gov.
4. Location. Location is one of the most important things to take into consideration when choosing a long-term care facility. As noted in cost, location plays a major role in how expensive or inexpensive a facility may be. Is it close to home? Proximity to family and friends may also be beneficial to residents to curb loneliness and make the transition easier.
5. Staffing. Does the staff interact well with each other, as well as with the residents? Does the staff respect the residents’ rights to privacy? Is there adequate staff to respond quickly to emergencies/calls for help? Observing how staff handles difficult situations sets a precedent for how a loved one may be treated in a similar circumstance.
Although it’s not easy to think about, it is necessary to discuss and prepare for the possibility of long-term care for family members and/or yourself in the future. Keeping these five things in mind (among others) can help guide your search for a long-term care facility that is a good fit. Do not be afraid to prepare a checklist and ask questions – you may be just the advocate your loved one needs to help them receive the best care possible.