Adults often find themselves in the unenviable position of making long-term decisions on behalf of their aging parents or other loved ones. And one of the more difficult decisions can be choosing if and when a family member should be cared for by strangers, essentially. Choosing the right nursing home is not an easy task, and it is not something that most people look forward to. But once you’ve reconciled with the idea that structured care is the best option for you and your family, the next step is gathering the facts and establishing trust with the people – and the company – ultimately responsible for providing, and ensuring, a good quality living arrangement for your loved one. Like most things in life, preparation is the key to success, anticipating the tiny bumps that you might encounter along the road.
In the grand scheme of things, it would seem the most daunting aspect of choosing the right home is less about the actual decision as it is the process of making it a reality. It’s especially difficult when one hears so frequently about the mismanaged homes, preventable accidents, nursing home staff negligence and doctor negligence that have led to lawsuits. Many people faced with making a nursing home decision for the first time don’t know much about the industry, facilities, and available care, and they might not know the right questions to ask or the right data to study. Thankfully, several resources provide helpful ways to make such a daunting decision a little more simple, providing you with details to help make the most informed decision possible.
Nursing Home Compare
This online resource, courtesy of the Federal Government, offers detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country, providing access to a host of databases that authenticate and/or detail things like internal ratings. Nursing Home Compare also provides its own downloadable 50-plus-page guide to choosing a nursing home. Learn more about payment methods, certifications, licenses, fees, and resident rights.
As a non-profit, this national newsroom keeps tabs on threats to public interests by providing articles and information on the things you might not read anywhere else. ProPublica describes itself as focusing on stories with a so-called “moral force,” producing journalism that “shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong.” ProPublica founded Nursing Home Inspect in 2012, a collection of data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. One app identifies which states have been subject to significant fines by regulators because of deficiencies. Shockingly, some fines run upwards of $40,000!
The Eden Alternatives maintains a philosophy that elder care is not a “one way street,” treating the process of care as more of a collaborative effort. “Education is the antidote to fear,” according to the organization’s consumer guide. This guiding principal perhaps sets Eden’s alternative above the rest, emphasizing transparency and education as two of the most important factors when choosing a residence. You can find consultation services, webinars, and a calendar listing of events with guest speakers, discussing a range of topics like community engagement and the improvement of a quality culture.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
The AHRQ, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a number of helpful resources for your search. This includes information on Medicare and Medicaid services, national surveys related to nursing homes, and links to reports on nursing home trends from organizations like the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, one of which collects a range of data on nursing homes around the country based on required surveys.