By Emily Gahafer
|Illustration by Brittany Granville|
Deciding on the perfect place to send a loved one is an almost impossible task. Today, there are few facilities that are both safe, affordable, and provide the best care for your family.
“Finding good care is in my opinion one of the most important decisions any family is going to make for an aging loved one,” says Linda Kempf, RN, geriatric care manager and senior care advocate.
After losing both of her grandparents to nursing home neglect, Linda dedicated her over 30-year career to turning around some of the most devastating facilities in the city.
Linda’s years of experience in the senior care field have allowed her to collect an arsenal of information on the subject.
Here are a few things to pay attention to when looking for a nursing home for a loved one:
Let your ears, eyes, and nose be your guide.
“Clean people, in clean environments, in clean clothing who are bathed regularly do not reek of urine,” Linda says. “Pay attention to the residents in the building and eyeball them from their head to their feet and see if that’s what you would want for your loved one.”
It’s important to enter this process with the mindset that this is your loved one’s new home and to view it as such.
“There have been a few places that we visited and would not consider because of cleanliness,” Patty says. “There were also places that we chose before for temporary rehab and would not consider again for long term care because of staffing issues.”
Go several times for several hours and once on a weekend.
“These facilities are always low on staff during the weekend. It’s best to go on a Saturday to see how the staff acts,” Linda says. “They will try to put the residents to bed early to avoid having to work as much.”
Eat at least two meals at that facility.
“I tell families to look into the kitchen area for residents on each hall, and they can tell just about anything they want to know about infection control in that refrigerator,” Linda says. “Families should try to visit and eat a lunch and dinner. Some facilities have been known to keep their food from the day before in an unheated oven for the next day and reheat it in the same oven after it’s been sitting and growing bacteria.”
As the family of a prospective resident, facilities will take you on a tour of the kitchen where you are able to inspect the appliances and food safety measures taken. Simply ask the director of the facility for a tour.
Check all of the places you would check if you were going to rent an apartment.
“Go around and look in the corners of rooms and in closets to see if they’re neat, look at the residents’ fingernails, see if there is food all over their face or spillage on their clothes. These are dead giveaways that something is not right.”
Vet the Staff.
“It’s the little things that tell you what the big things are that aren’t being done,” Linda says. “There are so many things that go on in these facilities, and the staff will often treat the residents for hallucinatory behavior when they in fact are complaining of something that is actually going on.”
Your family member’s personal comfort is very important. Your confidence in the staff caring for your loved one is most important. Go to great lengths to ensure a wonderful living experience.
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