The selection of nursing home care for a family member is often an overwhelming and difficult task. Your goal is to find a nursing home that will provide care and treatment to restore or maintain the patient's highest level of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Types of Facilities
A Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a facility that is required to provide continuous (24-hour) nursing supervision by registered or licensed nurses. SNF's provide medical, nursing, dietary, pharmacy, and activity services. These facilities care for the incapacitated person in need of long- or short-term care and assistance with many aspects of daily living, including walking, bathing, dressing, eating. An Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) generally serves patients who are ambulatory and need less supervision and care. ICF's provide medical, intermittent nursing, dietary, pharmacy, and activity services. Licensed nurses are not always immediately available in an ICF. A Residential or Assisted Living Facility provides shelter, board, some protective oversight and the assistance in administering medications.
Licensing and Certification
All state governments require that nursing homes be licensed. The licensing requirements establish acceptable practices for care and services. State inspectors visit nursing homes at least once a year to determine their compliance with state standards and their qualifications to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
Who Operates Nursing Homes?
Some nursing homes are operated as nonprofit corporations. They are sponsored by religious, charitable, fraternal, and other groups or run by government agencies at the federal, state, or local levels. But many nursing homes are businesses operated for profit. They may be owned by individuals or corporations. Sometimes they are part of a chain of nursing homes.
Unfortunately, the choice of a nursing home is often made in a crisis moment when you are rushed to find a safe and secure home for a family member. Selecting a home is an important decision—one that deserves foresight and careful clear-headed consideration.
There are several ways you can help in advance to select a quality home for your loved one.
Selection of a Nursing Home
When you have compiled a list of the facilities that seem most appropriate, you should make a personal visit to each one. When you do visit a home, there are a number of services to observe and evaluate:
Nursing Home Admission Agreements
Once you have made a selection of a nursing home, you will want to review and be sure you thoroughly understand the home's contract or financial agreement. If you have questions, ask a lawyer or the local long-term-care ombudsman in your area (check in phone book). Since this agreement constitutes a legal contract, it is advisable to have a lawyer review the agreement before signing it. NEVER SIGN A LEGAL DOCUMENT THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
Assuring Good Care
You, your family, and friends play a vital role in assuring your family member continues to receive quality care. Visit regularly and at different times. Watch for signs and symptoms of abuse or neglect. Consider whether there is sufficient staff to meet the residents' needs. Ask whether they appear clean, hungry or thirsty. Communicate your concerns to the charge nurse. If you do not see improvements ask to speak with the Director of Nursing or Administrator. If you suspect someone has been the victim of abuse or neglect report it to your states Department of Senior Services. In Missouri, call 1-800-392-0210. In addition, contact our office. You and your family member have rights. We can help.