Tips for Choosing Nursing Home: Location, Quality, Cost

U.S. News recently published a helpful story that acts as a great, succinct resource for those in the process of helping a senior loved one decide upon a long-term care facility. Seeing a relative–often a parent–face medical decline is always difficult. The process is made much harder when circumstances require the senior to move out of a home and into a skilled nursing facility for extra support and security.

The story explains that the best starting point is, of course, location. The ability for friends and family to visit the senior easily and frequently is critical. Therefore, the search should begin by narrowing down all facilities within a reasonable range of close loved ones. From there, it is important to conduct some online research to evaluate those potential homes on a range of quality factors. You can determine if any facility has a history of poor care, learn about their staffing levels, and otherwise get a feel for the overall services provided by the facility. Some homes are large, while others have far fewer residents. Some facilities have many single rooms, while others have mostly shared rooms. Understanding these differences ahead of time is essentially. U.S. News has their own nursing home ranking which you can view here to help in this online evaluation process.

Those preliminary investigations should allow you to narrow the search even further to a small handful for visits. Site visits are critical because there is no way to get a sense of the home’s on-the-ground feel, status of current residents, and personability of caregivers without actually being there. You should ask any question that comes to mind, including those about daily routines, meal times, entertainment options, number of caregivers, etc. It’s helpful to pay attention to the facility itself. Is cleanliness prioritized? Does the facility seem to be in good shape or are repairs needed? Those sorts of details often reflect the caregivers’ overall commitment to providing top quality service.

Finally after narrowing down preferred homes, it is obviously required to get a detailed sense of the costs and understand how payment will be made. Everyone’s situation is different, but generally the support comes either from private accounts, long-term care insurance, or Medicaid. It may be helpful to visit with professional to help understand these financing issues. That is particularly important if Medicaid is involved, because it involves the “spending down” of assets and other unique qualification requirements.

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