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Your Guide to Selecting the Right Facility for Long-Term and End-of-Life Care

There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting the appropriate long-term care facility for yourself or a family member. Below are some suggested guidelines for consideration. 

Plan Ahead 

Nursing home care is often sought after a tragic accident (such as a fall) leads to a hospital stay and it’s determined that an individual can no longer live at home. However, families often have discussions about the potential need to move into a nursing home but never do any planning. 

Avoid these last-minute emergency searches by getting to know the facilities in your area. Visit them and ask about their admissions process. It is important to discuss what the clinical conditions are and what care is needed when moving to a nursing home.

Don’t wait until the last day in the hospital to search for a nursing home. Talk to the hospital discharge planner shortly for advice after admission. Consider not only the short-term rehabilitation care offered by the nursing home but also the long-term care when living there. 

Use Nursing Home Compare 

Nursing Home Compare (NHC) is a website that allows you to find and compare all Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes. This tool helps you identify all the nursing homes within a selected distance of any zip code or town in the country. 

It also provides information on each nursing home and allows you to compare their ratings on quality of care and staffing levels. NHC also contains information on how nursing homes performed on health and fire safety inspections. Pay particular attention to information that is important or related to the reason(s) for moving into a nursing home. 

Tour the facility 

Visiting a center is one of the best ways to learn about the nursing home. Ask staff, families, and residents questions, and observe how the staff members interact with the residents. Families should observe the environment and ask themselves: Is it quiet and peaceful, or chaotic and noisy? Is it cluttered or organized? Do the residents and patients seem happy? What are they doing (e.g., are they all in their rooms and in bed, or out in common areas interacting with others)? 

Researching and finding the right long-term care facility is a difficult and emotional process, but with a little planning and information, you can feel more confident in selecting the proper facility. 

Dr. David Gifford, Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, Chief Medical Officer, American Health Care Association, [email protected]

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