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Finding a Long Term Care Facility

Published by 4Hope on 2004/10/4 (5332 reads)
Recorded at the KEOM 88.5FM studios
A Community Focus segment with Dr. James Griffin

Q: So, Barb, I imagine that many of our listeners may have been faced with having to place a parent or another loved one in a nursing home. Do you have any ideas that may help them through this process?

A: Absolutely. And it is a real concern! The long term care industry has fallen on hard times. Federal reimbursement for long term care is so very low that it is harder than ever to hire and keep staff. Turnover in long term care is legendary. The recruitment of new Licensed Nursing Facility Administrators has fallen to crisis levels. And for those who DO choose to work in long term care, there is an awful sense of being trapped between the needs of patients, angry families, and regulators. It really can be a very frustrating experience because day in and day out, you wonder how much good you’re really doing.

In such an environment, it is extremely important to do some homework before you have a need. It’s really a mistake to think that you can just wait to place a loved one “at the nursing home down the street” when they need it. It is imperative that you know what kind of care they give. That only comes with familiarity. This isn’t like buying a car!

Q: So what should our listeners look for?

A: Probably the first rule of thumb is to look beyond appearances. We have seen homes that were tolerable at best, but the staff had been there for years and fawned all over their patients, going out and getting them hamburgers and such. On the opposite side, we have seen places where the nurse never got up from behind the desk, and would barely look up when addressed. Another rule of thumb is to check the facilities that you are looking at at several different times of day and on both weekdays and weekends. Ask other family members what their experiences have been. Keep in mind, though, that one or two experiences are not really enough to judge a facility on. Another guideline is to be aware of ALL FIVE SENSES when you visit. That is, get a look at the food, or ask a resident how the food tastes. Be aware of the smell. Look at the floors and the walls and the restrooms, all the surfaces. How would it be to be around them? What sounds do you hear? Yelling? Moaning? Or music? How do staff members touch the patients? Are the patients active?

Q: What about money?

A: That’s a very important question. You should contact a trained and licensed financial advisor to help you understand what resources you have available and what kind of expectations you should have as far as long term care. Whatever savings one has can be quickly depleted in long term care facilities. And, to receive government assistance, in many cases, requires you to use up most of those savings beforehand.

Some long term care providers refuse to accept some government programs. So, you should be very clear about what your options are once you have used up all the available savings. It’s very hard to have to move someone you love after they’ve already adapted.

Q: Are there other resources for evaluating facilities?

A: Yes. The state of Texas and the federal government have internet resources that give information on how to pick a nursing home, nursing home checklists, as well as information about inspections that facilities have undergone. We have listed those resources at our website, One is the Medicare site . Incidentally, even if you do plan to use Medicare or Medicaid, these resources can still be very insightful.
Another good resource that we recently found is It also lists inspection results. Even with these inspection results, however, listeners should be very careful: It is possible to have no deficiencies, as the various citations are called, and still give less than adequate care.
Q: So you’re saying that even with all this information, there’s no substitution for personal evaluation and study?

A: Indeed. We can’t begin to say what nursing home will best suit another’s mom or dad. None of them are perfect. The system is flawed. But, there are places that day in and day out do the best they can in this imperfect system. There are those priceless aides and nurses and social workers who, on a daily basis, answer suffering with a compassionate and human face.

Tags: care   home   long   term   nursing   facility  

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