How to Find a Safe, Clean Nursing Home in Your Area

Choosing a safe, clean nursing home does not have to be a gut wrenching decision if you plan ahead. Just as it is prudent to practice “preventive law,” e.g., meeting with an attorney to prepare a will and evaluate other estate planning options, you should consider your options in advance. However, sometimes life is such that you have to move quickly, e.g., American Association of Retired Persons (www.aarp.org)  says that about one-half of all nursing home admissions come directly after hospital stays. Here are tips to assist you.

With more than 16,000 nursing homes operating in the United States, you have options. Here are two ways to obtain helpful information:

1. State long-term-care-ombudsman. Every state has one. You can find yours at www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman
2. County and municipal agency on aging. You can find yours at www.eldercare.gov

A wonderful web page called Nursing Home Compare, at www.medicare.gov/NHCompare provides valuable data regarding health inspections, fire safety, staffing and 19 quality measures at nursing homes. Ratings are provided for all nursing homes near your city or town and you can search by your home zip code.

In business, you hear of the importance of location, location, location. With nursing homes, think visit, visit, visit. A reputable nursing home will welcome your visits to try the food, watch group activities, check cleanliness and assess the quality of the staff. Surprise visits are the best, since you get an idea of how the facility looks when there is no “open house.” One family member made arrangements to stay in the proposed facility for several days to see first hand how good or bad the facility was before deciding whether the facility was a good fit for a loved one.

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