5 Questions to Ask a Nursing Home Administrator

Placing a family member or parent in the care of another person is a difficult decision. You want to be sure he or she receives the best care possible in a comforting and safe environment.
5 Questions to Ask a Nursing Home Administrator

Choosing an affordable nursing home that can provide everything your loved one needs can be challenging, but knowing which questions to ask can make the selection process easier. Learn more about the top five questions to ask a nursing home administrator.

5 Questions to Ask a Nursing Home Administrator

After narrowing down your search to a handful of local nursing homes, you should begin meeting with administrators and touring the facilities.

You can research a place online for hours, but nothing is better than getting a first-hand experience. You will be able to see how staff and residents interact, witness activities held at the facility and discover how safe the place is for your loved one.

Most importantly, you could have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the nursing home administrator. He or she could answer some of your questions about the facility itself, policies and the associated costs. Thinking of all the best questions to ask may be demanding, but some questions you should ask before admitting a family member include:

1. Can this place provide the level of care and services needed?

The most important question you can ask when researching a nursing home is whether or not the place can provide the level of care needed for your loved one. You want to be sure the facility can provide basic care, such as boarding, administering medication, personal care and emergency care. However, you also want to know what other services are available, such as occupational therapy, social work or counseling, and what type of preventative care is offered.

Additionally, you should ask questions about the nursing home’s staffing situation because this can affect the quality of care your loved one will receive. You should learn more about the nurses, see how they interact with residents and ask questions about the staff-to-resident ratio. You do not want to have a loved one in a facility where there are not enough professionals to provide care and supervision.

2. Is this facility accredited and certified?

Nursing homes may not be required to undergo the accreditation process with the Joint Commission, but there are benefits to choosing a facility that has earned the status. The commission, an independent not-for-profit organization that certifies and accredits healthcare organizations, requires facilities seeking accreditation to meet strict quality control and safety guidelines.

If a nursing home has earned this accreditation status, it is an indicator that the facility is dedicated to patient safety and quality of care issues. According to a study, senior managers at more than 4,000 U.S. facilities identify Joint Commission accreditation as a positive influence on patient safety issues, which include staffing, teamwork, training, nonpunitive responses to mistakes and communication openness.

3. What are your policies for activities and visitors?

Most nursing homes offer some level of activity for residents, but the frequency and type of activities can vary depending on the facility. Ask about the daily schedules and about unscheduled activities, such as using a library or other area of the facility without a planned activity. You want to be sure there are options to keep your loved one active.

Also, some nursing homes plan more elaborate activities for residents, depending on their level of physical ability. Some places may plan local outings, social hours or other forms of entertainment. It is important to choose a home that offers the type of activities your loved one would be interested in doing and would not restrict their physical abilities.

You also want to be sure the nursing home you choose has a positive policy toward visitors. Having family and friends visit your loved one is critical to them keeping a positive outlook, and you want to choose a place that can reasonably accommodate visitors. If your loved one has a pet you would like to bring, you may want to choose a facility that would allow it.

4. How does the facility work with the ombudsman program?

How a facility works with the local ombudsman program could be a telling sign. Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and similar adult care facilities. They work to resolve problems individual residents may face and strive to generate changes at the local, state and national levels.

These advocates are responsible for investigating any issues or complaints residents may have while living in a nursing home. If a resident complains of being neglected or not receiving proper care, an investigation would be initiated. If the potential nursing home you are researching welcomes visits from the local ombudsman, this could be considered a good sign. Additionally, you could speak with the ombudsman to learn more about the facility and its reputation.

5. Is this nursing home affordable?

When you select a nursing home, you want to be sure it is a place that is affordable and realistic for your family. Nursing home costs can be expensive and they vary depending on the person’s length of stay and his or her geographical location. According to a Cost of Care Genworth study, average annual costs can range from $80,000 to a little more than $91,000. You should have a budget in mind ahead of time and a plan to determine if there are options to defray the costs.

Long-term care insurance, Medigap and employer-provided or private health insurance plans can offset the cost of long-term care. You should determine if Medicare will cover at least a portion of the stay. If your loved one qualifies for Medicaid, you may be able to get help to pay for nursing home care costs, although not all nursing homes accept Medicaid payment. It is important to know the costs associated with the nursing home and what payments are accepted before deciding it is the best location for your loved one.

There are hundreds of things to consider when choosing a nursing home for a loved one, but the list above can help you get started. You always want to make sure the place you choose is safe and that the staff is dedicated to helping your family member. This can help give you peace of mind knowing the person you love will be cared for properly. Diligent research, visits to facilities and communicating with your loved one can help you find the best fit for him or her.

About the Author

Sarah Blanchard is the marketing manager for Winburn Bequette, a nursing home abuse law firm representing clients in Arkansas and Missouri. Follow her on Google+.

Which questions did you ask a nursing home administrator during your search for care for a loved one? Share them with us in the comments below.

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