The decision to move a loved one into a skilled nursing community can be difficult. But knowing what to look for, and what to watch out for, can often bring clarity and focus when making the choice. There are likely plenty of questions running through your head at a time like this. What makes a good skilled nursing community? How many options are there in eastern PA and the Scranton area? Luckily, the answers are easier to find than you may think. If you’re ready to take the first step for your loved one, but could use a little help in getting started, keep reading for tips on how to choose a nursing home, as well as the kinds of nursing home questions you should ask along the way.
Narrowing the search
One of the very first things you should do is identify the locations you would like to visit. To help you find a Scranton nursing home, start with an online database that can hone in on the specific locations where you’d want your loved one to reside. Thorough research of as many local nursing homes as possible, done prior to making your first visit, will be an invaluable help to you during this process.
After determining the locations of the nursing homes on your list, take time to review the types of services each one has to offer. Research which hospitals are nearby and with whom the nursing home has transfer agreements. Ask what services will be covered by insurance and what is paid for privately. For example, cable TV, hairdressing, and internet service charges may differ from community to community. Once these first few steps are out of the way, however, you can start asking the types of nursing home questions that will lead you and your loved one to the community where you’ll both feel comfortable.
Now that you know where your search is going, what should you look for at each community your visit? What follows are some important questions to keep in mind:
1. Does the nursing home smell and look clean?
Likely the very first thing you’ll encounter upon entering a Scranton nursing home, or any nursing home, is the appearance and odor. Both can speak volumes about a location. A foul smell and messy appearance can be the cause of poor housekeeping, but it can also be indicative of a caregiving staff that is not properly attending to its residents.
2. Are there rehabilitation services on-site?
Skilled nursing homes with an on-site rehabilitation department allow you or your loved one to avoid traveling or being transported to a separate location for treatment. On-site services provide convenient, quality care by staff who can quickly attend to any change in a resident’s condition.
3. How often can family and friends visit?
Family and friends should be able to visit at any time, but most homes will have suggested normal visiting hours. Certain visiting accommodations may need to be made for visits outside of suggested hours in order to maintain a peaceful environment for all residents.
4. Can residents make choices about their daily routine?
Your loved one likely had a daily routine, or a rhythm to life to which they’d grown accustomed before moving to skilled nursing. To make the transition as smooth as possible, communities should try capturing the resident’s routine they had at their home as best they can and find a way to adopt that into the nursing home environment.
5. How often do the doctors visit?
Doctors should regularly visit nursing homes to check on their patients. Also, look for strong working relationships between the nurses and the doctors, open lines of communication are vital to resident care. Doctors should be local to the nursing home.
6. Are residents clean, appropriately dressed and well groomed?
Residents should be attended to multiple times a day. Proper grooming makes anyone feel better. Residents should be changed into clean and laundered clothes daily.
7. Are background checks conducted on the entire staff?
It’s imperative that every nursing home do thorough background checks on every staff member hired. You want to know that your loved one is care for by capable and qualified people.
8. How many staff members regularly work on site at any given time?
A staff that is visibly present and engaged during a visit is often indicative a staff that exhibits those same qualities at all hours. Idle staff members, on the other hand, or a seemingly small staff, can by symptoms of a larger managerial issue.
9. Do any volunteer organizations come to the community?
It’s nice to know whenever a nursing home pursues local volunteers to get involved in various activities. In many cases, the simple act of just sitting and talking with the residents can make a huge impact on a person’s day. If the community is known to make a positive difference in the lives of its residents, volunteers will want to be a part of it.
10. Are the meals prepared on- or off-site?
More often than not, on-site meal preparation means the food just tastes better. It also usually means residents have a choice in their eating habits, and the meals can be made-to-order to the resident’s likes and dislikes.
Of course, these are likely just some of the Scranton nursing home questions you’ll have. Each person has their own requirements and wish lists they’ll want checked off. And in fact, a checklist is exactly the other tool you should employ when searching for skilled nursing homes. Checklists are a great way to record your observations, likes, dislikes and more. You can design your own, or try this one from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.