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Tips for finding a safe nursing home

Moving a loved one to a nursing home is never an easy decision. You want to find a safe place for your loved one, so where do you start?

Referrals. Ask people you trust. Perhaps a friend or neighbor has a family member living in a nursing home they like and trust. Does your loved one’s doctor provide care at a local facility? Does your loved one go to a senior or community center or belong to a church? Perhaps someone there has a recommendation. These are all starting points to finding options in your area.

Compare your options. The quality of nursing homes can vary quite a bit. You can use online tools to compare nursing homes in your area. You can also contact the Cuyahoga County Long-Term Care Ombudsman for information. This office does not oversee nursing homes, but does offer resources to help you select the right provider.

Visit the nursing homes. Now that you have narrowed your list to a few possibilities, visit the facilities in person and bring your loved one along, if possible. A personal visit allows you to see the conditions of the facility, the level of staffing, and the residents. Does it look clean and well-kept? Are residents engaged and happy? Ask plenty of questions, especially if you see something that concerns you. Important topics include:

  • Is the nursing home Medicare and/or Medicaid certified?
  • Is it licensed in Ohio?
  • Is there a bed currently available?
  • How is transportation handled if a resident needs specialty care?
  • What type of specialty and rehabilitative services are located on-site?
  • Does the facility have policies and procedures for care of dementia patients?
  • Is licensed nursing staff on duty 24 hours a day?
  • What is the staff turnover like?
  • Is there a social worker on staff?
  • What is their current rate of anti-psychotic medication use?
  • Will the staff contact the resident’s personal doctor when needed?
  • How often are care plan meetings held?

You can also request a copy of the nursing home’s inspection report. How have they addressed the issues in the report? Try to visit a second time, if you can.

Making a choice. The resources mentioned above may come in handy if you are trying to decide between more than one option. Keep your loved one involved as much as possible. If you have only one option available, but you did not like what you saw at your visit, talk to the Ombudsman, a social worker, or the hospital discharge planner. You may be able to work out a temporary home health care arrangement until a facility you like has a bed available.

Planning and advocacy on your part can go a long way to ensuring you find the right nursing home for your loved one.

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