What are red flags to look out for when visiting a nursing home

Choosing a nursing home can be a very exhausting task. Actually, the task of narrowing your search for what type of facility best fits your loved one’s needs have probably already exhausted you. Now that you know your loved one needs 24-hour nursing care, the next step is finding the right fit for you and your family. Here are the red flags to look out for when visiting a nursing home

Don’t Necessarily Pay Attention To The Aesthetics Of The Nursing Home
This is a catch 22 type scenario. Many people flock to the newest and most elegant, skilled nursing facilities on the market. There’s nothing wrong with that, however, it is very important that you don’t base your decision ENTIRELY on that beauty of a nursing home. There are many challenges that arise from opening a new facility. Staffing may be difficult at times, there can be quite a bit of turnover as departments adjust, as well as burnout can happen quickly in a new startup. Also, there is something to be said about a facility who has had many of the same department staff together for quite some time. Continuity of staff usually transitions into good care (but not always). The aesthetics of a facility should indicate that workers take pride in where they work but the glitz of a brand new facility does not always mean better.

Pay Attention To How Residents Look
When you are touring a nursing home, look at how the residents who are already there are taken care of. Particularly, look at the resident’s appearance and hygiene. If a resident is clean, well groomed, and looks generally happy, this is an easy sign that care is good. Also, there are usually quite a few residents in a long-term care facility at any given time. If during the tour, you notice an odor, don’t write the facility off. Accidents do happen and that is what the staff is for. Make a mental note of it and see if the situation is addressed by the end of the tour. If it is, it means that staff took appropriate actions to address the situation.

Pay Attention To How Employees Look
When touring a nursing home, monitor how the staff interacts with each other and the residents. You should get a sense of the overall mood of the facility by closely monitoring the employees. See if nurses and aides are enjoying their work. You can observe this by seeing if they are smiling, take pride in their uniform, and have a general demeanor to help. It’s not always easy to spot a very happy employee but to find one who isn’t can be quite evident.

Look For Call Lights
A good indicator of care is by observing the call lights outside of residents doors. Don’t always go by the sound of call lights, because that can be deceiving at times (it may sound like one call light is repeatedly alarming when it could be multiple lights sounding after each other). So, look down each hall and you should be able to see if any lights are blinking. In a long-term care facility, it is inevitable that the call lights will be going off – that’s what 24-hour nursing care is for. If you can, pick one particular light and see how long it takes before it goes off. One of the hardest times for call light activity is during meal times because many of the nurses and aides are assisting with dining.

You can get a good feeling of how a nursing home operates just by looking. If you have time, it is best to tour several times at several different times of the day. You may want to bring another family member with you the second time to see if they observe the same things. Touring more than once can give you different perspectives as well. For instance, if you toured the very first time around 2:00, the facility may have seemed loud and too active to you. However, you may have been witnessing a lot of staff due to shift change. Also, keep in mind that the staff that is there in the morning time is usually not the same staff in the evening. During your first tour, ask when the shifts are. From that, you could schedule your next visit.




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