Finding a nursing home can be one of the most stressful tasks a caregiver can take on. The negative stigma attached to nursing homes creates fear among seniors and the family caring for them. Adding to this fear that the cost of care will consume the nest egg that has taken a lifetime to save.
These factors prevent seniors and their families from discussing the scenarios in which care in a nursing home is necessary. It also prevents seniors from developing a plan to search and pay for this level of the senior healthcare continuum.
This post highlights four insider tips a family member can use before touring the nursing home to narrow down the large list of choices in the area.
Tip #1. Call First
Communication is key component of good customer service. Nursing Homes that fail to communicate have significantly more complaints than others. There is no better way to evaluate a nursing homes communication than giving them a call.
When you called:
- Did a real person answer the phone instead of a recording?
- Was the receptionist polite and professional when she answered?
- Did they connect you to the person you needed to talk to?
- Did the nursing home call you back within a reasonable time?
Tour Tip: If the answers to these questions is no then the nursing home may have an issue with communication. Look for common communication tools like newsletters and postings about resident and family council meetings.
Tip #2: Check the Want Ads
Before you decide to tour the nursing home you should check the want ads. It may sound strange but nursing homes with a lot of turnover may be in crisis. This is especially true if the job ads are for key positions like Director of Nursing or Administrator. It is very difficult for a nursing center to provide good service during a transition in leadership.
Tour Tip: Ask the manager giving you the tour about staff turnover and staffing ratios. Also ask about the facilities use of staffing agencies. If a nursing home uses a staffing agencies to fill gaps in their schedule they may have issues with customer service.
Tip #3: Ask At Area Churches
Every church has an outreach program that visits area nursing homes. Volunteers from these programs are in these facilities weekly and often witness the good, bad and ugly. If you church visits a nursing home you are considering seek out and ask the outreach coordinator. They may have valuable insight into your choice.
Tour Tip: Look at the nursing homes activity calendar for groups run by area churches and community groups. Nursing Homes that open themselves up to community involvement are typically more accountable and transparent. That accountability usually translates into better patient care.
Tip #4 Look for Credentialing and Insurance Coverage
Before touring the nursing home you want to ask about insurance coverage. As a general rule facilities that accept many different types have more accountability than others. This is because each insurance has its own credentialing process the nursing home must comply with in before they are allowed to accept payment. Nursing homes that accept multiple insurances usually have an enhanced quality improvement process to handle resident and family concerns.
You may also want to check credentialing. Nursing centers are only required to be licensed by Medicare. Nursing homes may seek an additional level of credentialing to enhance customer service and patient care.
Tour Tip: Facilities who have additional credentialing will have it posted within the facility, on their marketing material and on their website.