Critter Corner: Red Flags When Choosing a Nursing Home

Dear Ribbit,

We are currently looking for a nursing home for my father and we narrowed it down to two. I have made several visits and interviewed staff and residents using your Nursing Home Evaluation Tool. There were certain things I think would make both a perfect fit, and a few things that I am not sure about. Are there any red flags I should watch out for when making my decision?


Candi Side

Dear Candi,

Choosing the right nursing home could take several conversations and visits to make sure that your loved one will be in a place where his or her needs will be met. While nursing home ratings can help you see how different facilities stack up on important measures such as staffing, nothing beats visiting places in person and making observations for yourself. Here are a few signs that a facility may not be right for your loved one.

1. Loud noises: When you walk through a nursing home’s doors, don’t just look – listen. How noisy and chaotic is it? Usually, the higher-functioning organizations tend to be much calmer and not as chaotic. Loud overhead paging can also enhance agitation, especially among people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

2. Respect: How staff and residents interact speaks volumes about life at a long-term care facility. Do the nursing aides know the residents’ names? Do they respond promptly? Does the respect go both ways? Staff members who don’t show respect to each other or to patients, or who talk more to each other than to the residents, are both potential red flags.

3. Access to administrators: Talking to the facility’s staff is just as important as watching them in action. Are they overworked? Stressed? The facility’s administrator should be accessible and open to questions, too, since he or she will be your go-to contact in the months and years to come.

4. Ability to visit: While it’s reasonable for nursing homes to request that family members don’t visit at 1 a.m., you should be able to come and go as you please, perhaps joining your loved one for a meal or activity. Check out the place on nights and weekends to make sure that the staffing level is adequate, but keep in mind that almost all nursing homes have fewer staff on duty during nights and weekends.

5. Neighborhood safety: While nursing home residents tend to spend most of their time inside, the neighborhood still matters, since getting outside safely can make a big difference in mental health. Look for outdoor space that’s secure so that residents feel comfortable going outside with staff or loved ones.

Hop this is helpful and you find the home that is best for your father. Please note — if your father has assets and you have not already hired us for Level 4 Planning / Medicaid asset protection planning, please call us as soon as possible for an initial consultation with Mr. Farr.


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.