Choosing a Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home for yourself or your loved one can be very stressful. It can determine how well you or your loved one will be cared for, feel connected, and possibly how smoothly you or your loved one will recover from an operation or illness. It can also determine how well you or your loved one will fit into your new living situation. Ultimately, it may determine how happy and loved you or your loved one feels.

One of the ways ProNobis Health can help you and your loved one is to bring together art and science in choosing a nursing home. We can help you think about what things are most important to you. Finding a nursing home that is top in all areas, that is close to your home so that you can visit frequently, and that fills all your cultural and religious needs can be challenging. Talk with your loved one and think about what he or she values. What are the most important things, what are less important but would nice to have, and what are the deal breakers? For instance, the most important thing to you and your loved one may be that the nursing home is near enough so that you can visit frequently. For others it may be very important that culturally appropriate meals or regular religious services are available. A deal breaker may be a history of abuse at the nursing home, or a series of fines the home has faced for poor care. It is important to think and talk about these things. They matter.

Not all nursing homes are alike. Some are large for-profit chains and some are smaller and may be run by a religious organization. Some cater to specific conditions, such as patients with dementia. And unfortunately, some provide lower-quality care and have worse outcomes. Some have been fined for poor care and some have even been cited for abuse of those in their care.

Types of Nursing Homes

As you are choosing a nursing home for your loved one, it is important to understand first what kind of care she or he needs. After you have done that, you can focus better on what things to ask and some of the things to consider in choosing a nursing home.

Nursing homes are divided between short-stay (sometimes called skilled nursing facilities, or SNFs, depending on what additional nursing care is provided) and long-stay. Because the goals of long-stay and short-stay nursing homes are different, the important things to consider are also different. We will explain some of the types of care facilities you might encounter and then give practical guidance to help you decide which nursing home is right for your loved one or yourself.

Short-Stay Nursing Homes

Most people go to short-stay nursing homes after being in the hospital either for an illness or a procedure, such as a hip replacement. The short-stay nursing home’s job is to return you or your loved one to as near full function as before the illness or operation as possible. If you or your loved one was able to get out of bed and go to the bathroom independently, the goal of the nursing home should be for the patient to be able to do that when they are discharged. If they do not expect your loved one to get back to where she or he was before, then the nursing home should tell you why that is. The nursing home should also tell you what you and your loved one can expect in terms of function and what the nursing home will do to make sure it happens. If there are specific nursing services that your loved one needs, such as wound care, the short-stay nursing home should tell you if they have a wound nurse and what steps they will take to make sure the wound is properly cared for and that it heals without an infection. It is expected that in a short-stay nursing home, residents will go home after a few weeks of being there.

If the operation or procedure was scheduled, you may have more time to carefully choose a facility than if the illness was unexpected. In either case, make sure that you are satisfied with the facility before you let your loved one go there or you go there yourself. Although they are likely to only be there for a relatively short time, a bad facility can not only keep you or your loved one from getting better, but you could also get worse or suffer a complication.

Long-Stay Nursing Homes

Long-stay nursing homes are intended for patients who are unlikely to return either home or to independent living. Some people will live there for many years. Some patients come to live in long-stay nursing homes after being in the hospital, and some come directly from home, either when they are unable to care for themselves or when they can’t be adequately cared for by family or friends. Sometimes people come to a long-stay nursing home because their dementia or other medical condition has progressed and it is not safe to care for them at home. The long-stay nursing home is truly a home, probably forever. Residents may form friendships with other residents and staff. Some long-stay nursing homes are part of a continuing care retirement community. Residents can transition to different levels of care as needed.