When you visit a nursing home, take advantage of the opportunity to speak with staff members. One type of employee that you should talk to in order to learn more about the nursing home is a nurse. Speaking with a nurse will give you a good idea of the day-to-day operation of the nursing home. This can help you determine if it is the right fit for your loved one.

10 Questions When Visiting a Nursing Home

How are Medical Emergencies Handled?

It is not uncommon for medical emergencies to arise in a nursing home. You need to understand your nursing home’s medical emergencies policy. This allows you to know how a sudden medical issue is dealt with. Talk to a nursing staff about their typical procedure when such an issue arises. Will a nurse try to figure out what is wrong first, or immediately call a doctor? When is a resident transported out of the nursing home? At what point in the process is the family contacted? Will the home contact the resident’s doctor? These questions will help you determine how well your loved one will be cared for in a medical emergency.

What was Your Interview Process Like?

Make sure that each staff member was interviewed before given positions at a home. This is especially the case for nurses. Make sure that the nurses provided their resumes before getting hired. They should have expressed their qualifications and past experiences as well. Also, an interview should have taken place to make sure that the nurse was qualified. Make sure that every staff member was screened. This can help ensure that each employee will do their job correctly.

How Long Have Staff Members Been Working Here for?

You should inquire about the staff member that has been at the nursing home the longest. Also ask a nurse how many staff members have been at the home for over a year, over five years, over ten years, etc. This will give you a good idea of the turnover rate at the home. A high turnover rate can increase the risk of neglect and abuse. The more employees that have stayed at the home for multiple years, the better.

How Many Hours do You Work per Shift?

It is important that you do not pick a nursing home where the staff feels overworked. Overworked and tired nurses are oftentimes burnt out, tired, and frustrated. This is a bad combination when working with residents that need compassionate care. When speaking with a staff member, you should subtly ask them what their hours are like. Before visiting the home, you may be able to look up staff hours and shift rules on the nursing home’s website. If you cannot find this information, asking staff member can get you the answers that you need. Asking not only what a typical shift is like, but if shift rules get broken and how often will be telling. While some staff members might not want to share this information, others might. This information can help you make a decision about the nursing home.

What Role do Registered Nurses Play?

There are many different types of nurses. But, only registered nurses should oversee other employees and make decisions for residents. Ask about the role of the registered nurses on staff. Are they involved in decision-making? Do they dictate to nurse’s assistants and other staff members? It is important to know that the nurses in the home are hands-on and involved with all residents.

Who Creates Care Plans?

Care plans are the foundation of nursing home residents’ health and well-being. A care plan should get created and carried out for every resident in the nursing home that you visit. Talk to a nurse about the care plans created for the residents in the nursing home. Also discuss the process of creating a care plan for your loved one. You can ask the nurse questions such as:

  • How do you typically create care plans for your residents?
  • Can my family be part of the care plan process?
  • If needed, can changes be made to the care plan?
  • Can I have a copy of the care plan?
  • Which doctors will be included in the care plan?
  • Who will carry out the care plan and make adjustments as necessary?

Creating the care plan is an essential step in your loved one’s health and well-being. Get a feel for what this process will be like before you commit to a nursing home.

Who Carries Out Care Plans?

Creating a care plan is great, but having a care plan means nothing if the plan won’t get executed. You need to understand who will be in charge of executing the care plan. Also consider how often care plans get followed in the nursing home.

In general, it is always best to have a registered nurse execute a care plan. Or, a nurse should supervise others executing the care plan. This will make sure that nothing goes wrong from a medical standpoint. When talking with nurses and other staff members, ask the following questions:

  • Who is in charge of the care plans?
  • Who makes sure that care plans are being followed?
  • What happens if a care plan is violated?
  • For the residents that you take care of, do you have their care plans on your person during the day?
  • What do you do if a part of the care plan is not working well?
  • Who is permitted to carry out care plans for residents?

Questions such as these will help you understand how care plans are executed in the nursing home.

How Many Residents are You in Charge of Taking Care of?

In order for your loved one to receive the best care possible in a nursing home, they need consistent and individualized attention. Most nursing homes have nurses that take care of specific residents during their shifts. It is important to make sure that the nurses and staff members do not have too many residents assigned to their care at one time. Think about it – if you are in charge of 20 people to take care of, you will probably give each individual less attention and time than if you had five residents to look after. Ask nurses and other staff members roughly how many residents they are in charge of at any given time. This will give you a good idea of the staff to resident ratio. This ratio can greatly impact response time, treatment, and the likelihood of neglect and abuse.

What Type of Nurses Work in this Home?

Not all nurses are created equal! There are different types of nurses, and it is important that you understand which types the nursing home in question employs, as well as their policies regarding these nurses. The main types of nurses that a nursing home might employ are:

  • Registered nurses.
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
  • Licensed vocational nurses/licensed practical nurses.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse is one who has passed a licensing exam, obtained a nursing license, and graduated from nursing school. A registered nurse should always oversee procedures concerning your loved one in the nursing home. The registered nurse works with other types of nurses and assistants to establish care plans and treat residents in a nursing home. You should ask a staff member or a nurse who oversees treatment to make sure that it is a registered nurse that is in charge of your loved one’s care at all times.

Licensed Vocational Nurse

A licensed vocational nurse or licensed practical nurse are licensed nurses who can take care of sick, disabled, or injured residents. These nurses must be given direction from registered nurses, but are now supervised by physicians. Again, you should make sure that your loved one’s care is not entirely left to a licensed practical nurse, but rather, that a registered nurse is in charge of their treatment.

Certified Nursing Assistant

A certified nursing assistant is a nurse’s assistant and may provide basic care to residents in a nursing home, but only under the supervision of a member of the nursing staff. Basic care that a certified nursing assistant can provide includes feeding, dressing, grooming, and bathing residents, and other basic tasks. To become a certified nursing assistant, the assistant must undergo training and be licensed by the state.

If you are speaking with a certified nursing assistant in the nursing home, ask them what kind of tasks they are in charge of and how much supervision they receive from the registered nurses in the facility. If a certified nursing assistant tells you that they do something like administer medication without the help of a registered nurse, this is a red flag. Certified nursing assistants should not have too much freedom in the nursing home because they are oftentimes not qualified to make medical decisions or handle residents on their own.

What is Communication like Between Staff Members?

Another important question to ask a nurse is what interactions and communication between staff members is like. Even if staff members are polite to residents, if they have a hostile work environment, this can affect the culture of the home. You should ask a nurse how the staff gets along and if there are any issues between staff members. These issues could potentially affect communication about your loved one and end in neglect or other issues. The interaction between staff members should be friendly and helpful in order to prevent these issues.