When searching for the right home for your loved one, some factors in this decision will seem obvious. But, there are also subtle differences between nursing homes. You should consider these to make sure that you have found the right home for your loved one. This list of 10 commonly overlooked nursing home elements is a good place to start.
Councils for Residents & Families
Many nursing homes have councils for residents and their family members. These councils allow them to have a say in actions taken against the nursing home. Consider attending one of these meetings and talking to members. You can learn about how residents and their family members impact change in the nursing home.
If possible, you should attend one of the council meetings to see how they operate. You’ll learn about what type of issues get addressed, and how these issues are resolved. If the nursing home that you are visiting doesn’t have a resident or family council, take this into consideration. There might not be an organized place for you to express your concerns. This might encourage you to consider other nursing homes that do have this option.
Religious & Spiritual Services
The nursing home you visit should meet the spiritual and religious needs of residents. Religious needs are fairly straightforward. They oftentimes include:
- Access to religious services.
- Access to a religious leader for guidance.
- Last rites.
- Bible study or a way to share faith with others.
- Accommodations for certain dietary restrictions.
- Access to religious texts.
- Religious sacraments (such as baptism, confession, etc.)
Most nursing homes do not hesitate to provide these services. But, spiritual needs can be more difficult to define and meet. Spirituality is any action that provides healing or meaning in one’s life. People can find spirituality in many activities. This includes exercise, music, art, the company of their loved ones, meditation, etc. A nursing home should allow residents the freedom to explore their own spirituality. They should also have the resources to experience it. If your loved one is religious or spiritual, ask about specific ways that the home meets these needs.
An important factor in physical and mental health is outdoor activities. Make sure that the nursing home has plenty of outdoor space and opportunity for residents to use this. Organized outdoor activities, such as yoga, golf, fishing, etc. can also help residents stay fit and socialize. Make sure that nursing home residents have access to outdoor spaces and that they use them.
Food & Dining Halls
When you visit a nursing home, don’t just check out a resident room. Make sure that you stop in the dining hall to get an idea of what the dining experience is like. Staff members should be available to patiently help residents eat or with dining-related needs. Also, the food should be nutritious and appealing. If possible, ask to try some of the food. You will get an idea of what your loved one will be eating if they become a resident at the home. Eating healthy and delicious food and having help in the dining hall can go a long way in helping your loved one.
Abuse Prevention Programs
Many nursing homes have found an excellent way to prevent abuse. This is to outline to residents and staff members what actions can and cannot be taken in the nursing home. When this plan is established, there are boundaries and consequences for breaking the rules. This can go a long way in preventing neglect or abuse in a home.
Continued Education of Staff
Make sure that staff members are properly qualified before they are hired by a nursing home. The home should pay for staff members to complete training and education each year. New medical information is always discovered and new laws come into effect. It is important that all nursing home staff members stay up-to-date.
Types of Nurses in Home
There are a variety of types of nurses that might be employed at a nursing home. It is important to understand which types of nurses work at the nursing home that you are looking at. Also understand the role that each type of nurse plays in the home. Because not all nurses are the same, it is important that a qualified staff member is taking care of your loved one. The main types of nurses that a nursing home might employ are:
- Registered nurses.
- Certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
- Licensed vocational nurses/licensed practical nurses.
A registered nurse is a nurse that has graduated from a nursing program. This nurse has passed a licensing exam, and obtained a nursing license. Registered nurses oversee care plans, procedures, and your loved one’s care. Registered nurses are also in charge of assistants and other types of nurses.
A certified nursing assistant is an assistant that is allowed to do basic tasks. CNAs can provide basic care to residents. This should be done under the supervision of a registered nurse. One becomes a CNA by participating in a training program and getting a license from the state. Make sure that in the nursing home that you visit, nurse’s assistants don’t have too much freedom. They should be supervised by a registered nurse.
A licensed vocational nurse or licensed practical nurse is a licensed nurse. They can take care of sick, disabled, or injured residents. Like nurse’s assistants, these nurses must be given direction from registered nurses. Again, make sure that your loved one’s care is not entirely left to a licensed practical nurse. Rather, a registered nurse is in charge of their treatment.
Even the best nursing homes are not perfect. In the event that you or your loved one are unhappy with treatment or something else related to the home, you need to know that your complaint will be listened to and validated. There should be a complaint policy in place so that you know that you will be able to get the help that you need. Be sure to ask about the complaint policy in place at the home, as well as information regarding who to contact with issues. Knowing that efforts will be made to help you if you ever have any issues with the home can be a great comfort.
Future Improvement Plans
Every nursing home has areas where it can improve. Knowing that the home will make future improvements can be a good thing. This shows that the nursing home is self-aware enough to understand its weaknesses. And, it shows that it is proactive when it comes to improvement. Some common examples of improvements are:
- Restructuring management.
- Paying for nurses and other employees to continue their training.
- Adding a new wing to the facility.
- Implementing a staff screening process.
- Implementing an abuse prevention policy.
- Adding new activities for the residents.
- Making rooms more comfortable for residents.
- Providing additional in-house treatment.
- Implementing a care plan policy.
- Purchasing newer models of equipment.
- Improving meal plans.
- Monitoring staff more carefully.
- Hiring more registered nurses.
- Extending visiting hours.
There are always ways to enhance a facility. Be sure to talk to a director of operations about making these improvements and others.
Arbitration Clauses in Contracts
Once you’ve found a nursing home, you might get asked to sign a contract. Before you sign any papers, protect your loved one by having a lawyer look over the documents. Some nursing homes add an arbitration clause to their contracts. This states that any issues with the nursing home must be solved through an arbitration process. This means that if your loved one is neglected or abused in the home, you won’t be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. Having a lawyer look over the contract can alert you to an arbitration clause or anything that seems out of the ordinary in the document.