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Selecting a Nursing Home for a Loved One

Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), nearly one in three nursing homes were cited for violating federal standards over a two-year period. In addition, more than half of nursing home staff members admitted to mistreating residents over the prior year.

Given these sobering statistics, it can be difficult to select a nursing home for a loved one. The good news is that there is a growing amount of information available to evaluate and compare facilities.

As we have previously reported on this blog, the federal government is in the process of updating its Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes, also known as Nursing Home Compare. The online website tracks several quality of care measures, including pressure ulcers, use of restraints, extent of injurious falls, and staffing levels, for the 15,800 nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid.

In addition to completing online research, it is also important to visit several nursing homes and meet with staff members. Below are several important questions to ask:

  • What security measures are in place to protect residents?
  • Can I review your latest state survey and/or monitoring report?
  • What types of behavioral issues are you able to handle, and what interventions do you use?
  • How often are residents bathed?
  • Does the facility accommodate special dietary needs?
  • Do you have an active resident and/or family council?
  • What are the visiting hours?
  • Are background checks conducted on all employees?
  • What types of training does the staff receive? How often is training updated?
  • Does the facility have abuse prevention procedures?

Of course, it is also important to make your own observations and trust your instincts. Is the facility clean? Do the residents look happy? Is the staff friendly and forthcoming?