There are a lot of nursing homes throughout the US – according to cdc.gov, there were 15,600 nursing homes, 1.7 million licensed beds, and 1.3 million residents.
Below is our checklist of things to consider when picking a nursing home.
Distance matters. It should be a top priority.
Constant contact with friends and loved ones is the best way to fight off depression and feelings of isolation, especially if they are a new resident. Close proximity also makes it easier to keep tabs on the quality of care a loved one is receiving.
In our opinion a nursing home should be within a 30-min commute for loved ones to visit.
2. Online Reviews
Search for top rated nursing homes near you on medicare.gov. The best ones have 4-5 stars “Overall” and 3-5 stars across specific senior care services.
- Health Inspections
- Staff Rating
- Quality of Resident Care
And while the star ratings are a good place to start, they aren’t perfect so you should schedule a visit (or due to COVID-19 many nursing homes have a virtual tour on their website).
3. Staff-to-Resident Ratio
The number of registered nurses (RNs) and nurse aides is an important indicator of a good senior care facility. In general, a good ratio is 6-to-1 (one staff member for every six residents).
Having a good ratio also means the facility has someone in case of emergency. It also means the staff will have a closer relationship with residents.
You can easily compare staffing at different homes because those that take Medicare or Medicaid residents must provide CMS with staff & nurse data.
Remember that the stats should be used only as a rough guide – it reflects the average number of nurses and nurse assistants in the two-weeks before the most recent health inspection.
Use ratings and stats to create a list of nursing homes to visit.
Nursing home surveys are conducted every 15-months with results posted on various .gov websites. If it’s been 10-14 months since the last one a nursing home may temporarily increase staff for a better rating.
4. Good Turnover Data
This number is a much better indicator of the quality of staffing.
It’s not unusual for a nursing home to have an annual nursing turnover of 50-100 percent or even higher.
Because of low pay and demanding physical requirements, turnover can be very high among aides, who have the most frequent direct contact with senior residents.
5. Ask The Ombudsman
Every state has a long-term care ombudsman.
An ombudsman is an official appointed to investigate resident complaints at a nursing home or senior care facility. They can tell you whether a facility is improving or declining.
Ombudsmen and advocacy organizations can tell you about a state’s nursing home regulations, which are usually more strict than federal regulations.