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How to Choose a Nursing Home

The process of choosing a nursing home for your loved one can be both intimidating and overwhelming. It is important to do your research to ensure that your loved one receives the proper care. By asking the right questions before deciding on a home, you will greatly reduce the risk of your loved one becoming a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.

The following advice will help guide you in your search:

  • Know your rights – If your loved one has been hospitalized immediately prior to entering a nursing home, you may be facing pressure to choose a facility quickly. If your loved one is on Medicare, you have the right to appeal the discharge. This will give you a few extra days to search for the right nursing home.
  • Get a list of nursing homes in your area – One good resource is the Nursing Home Quality Monitor by Consumer Reports, which provides listings and evaluations of nursing homes in every state. You can also contact the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) to receive contact information on both local area nursing homes and your local long-term care ombudsman, who can be an excellent resource to answer many of your questions.
  • Review nursing home websites – Once you have a list of nursing homes in your area, it is a good idea to review several of their websites to find out about cost, whether the facility accepts Medicare and Medicaid, and the different services offered at each nursing home. If this information is not available on the website, you can call the facility to obtain the answers to these questions and inquire about availability.
  • Visit unannounced – Do not schedule an appointment to visit a potential nursing home. Simply show up unannounced and ask to speak with the administrator. This will give you a better impression of how the facility is run than if they have time to prepare for your visit. While you are receiving a tour, ask the administrator questions about the ratio of caregivers to residents and request a copy of the staffing schedule. Pay attention for any foul odors as well.
  • Go to the bathroom – You should evaluate the cleanliness of the bathrooms and check the hot water. Lack of hot water is a frequent complaint at many nursing homes.
  • Observe the residents – Do you see a lot of residents in activity areas, dining rooms, or outdoor quarters? If so, this is a good sign. Be wary of facilities where you see residents being changed, dressed, or toileted in public. This is a sign that the nursing home does not make resident privacy and dignity a priority. Do you see restraints being used on residents or is the staff using restraint-free methods to accommodate the needs and safety of its residents?
  • Visit the kitchen – Observe how the meals are prepared. If the nursing home does not want to accommodate this request, you should be concerned. Is the kitchen clean? Is food properly stored and refrigerated? Is there a licensed dietician on staff? Do they keep a record of resident food allergies and dislikes? If possible, ask to have a meal in the dining room with the other residents.
  • Review inspection reports – Nursing homes are required by law to provide you with a copy of their most recent inspection report. Read it carefully and look for any violations which might be a cause for concern. Ask the administrator how they have worked to correct any issues cited in the report.
  • Sit in on a resident council meeting – Nursing homes usually have groups comprised of residents and their family members which meet to discuss issues regarding care and treatment within the facility. Sitting in on one of these meetings will give you a good idea of how the facility is run.
  • Visit often – Once you choose a nursing home for your loved one, visit frequently to make sure the facility is providing the proper care. When you visit, make sure the staff is following all requirements for care spelled out in your loved one’s patient care plan.

If you suspect that your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, it is important to consult an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at once.

The Arizona nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Cullan & Cullan can help you protect the rights of your loved one if he or she has been the victim of nursing home abuse. Our lawyers are also doctors, which enables us to more carefully evaluate medical records and offer you guidance on proper treatment for your loved one. Our medical background also gives us a more sophisticated understanding of the complex federal and state regulations governing care provided at nursing homes, including the duties that nursing homes owe their patients.

Please contact our Arizona nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation. Cullan & Cullan serves clients in Phoenix and all of Arizona.


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