Selecting a care facility for elderly loved ones can be a difficult process. It involves a lot of decisions and choices that most people would hope to never have to make particularly when the dilemma involves a relative diagnosed with dementia. Unfortunately, home care for a loved one with dementia can become physically and emotionally difficult as the disease becomes more and more unmanageable. However, with some preparation and research, an informed choice can be made that will allow our loved ones to be cared for properly.
Considering the Severity
Because dementia begins mildly and increases in severity over time, it is often necessary to choose a variety of care options that our aging relative can progress through. It is also important to consider this ahead of time so as not to end up choosing a facility in a moment of crisis.
- AssistedÂ nursing homesÂ often have an area where residents with dementia are given care away from those who are better able to get around and take care of themselves.
- Care homes withÂ specializedÂ nursing can be necessary when a person with dementia needs care 24 hours a day.
- When sufferers cannot care for themselves at all, hospice care may become a necessity. Patients can access hospice care in their own home, the home of a loved one, or in a care facility setting. This level of care allows dementia sufferers to continue to keep their dignity and stay comfortable.
Research the Data
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid annually compile data on 15,000+ care and nursing homes throughout the country. Homes are given between one and five stars based on health inspection data, staff, general wellbeing of residents and other such quality measures.
Compiled data and statistics such as these can be a great place to begin researching – but it’s worth bearing in mind that ranking and inspections have their limits and only reflect the quality of the facilities over certain durations of time. In addition, the system allows only 10 per cent of graded homes to earn a five-star rating, meaning a less expensive four-star nursing home that narrowly missed the percentage quota might be just as good, if not better, than another five-star home.
Tour the Facility
When considering a care facility, it is always best to insist on a tour. Should an establishment refuse to allow a tour of the facility and grounds, it may be wise to continue looking elsewhere. The outside of a facility should be clean and inviting, and the needs of visitors who are physically challenged should be met without having to wait for someone to notice or be called.
Ask about staff members and how much experience and education are required for varying jobs. It should be permitted to tour the available living and activity areas. Ensure that there are safety features, including disabled access and emergency response equipment. The entire facility should be clean and well-maintained there should be no broken or damaged equipment, including chairs or handrails.
Talk to the Staff
This will allow a decent impression of how relaxed and friendly the facility’s atmosphere is. Ask how long each person has had his or her job with the establishment, as a high turnover could indicate potentially low standards of patient care or even under qualified employees. Longevity of staff members translates to familiarity with residents of the facility as well as caregivers being able to detect small changes in the condition of a patient. When conversing with managers and supervisors, they should be able to answer all questions without trying to get around them.
Ask About Services
When choosing a care facility for a loved one with dementia, it’s important to ask about services and care levels. Ask about meals and whether patients can choose what they receive to eat, as well as telephone and television access. Sometimes these amenities are included in the basic cost, but do make sure of this beforehand. There should be a recreational program for facility residents of many abilities, which allows residents to participate or opt out if they choose to.
Consult the State Ombudsman
Every state in the U.S. has a long-term care ombudsman, serving as an authority on long-term care homes and an advocate of nursing home residents. Ombudsmen are qualified to give information on health inspections, staffing, quality of care and any significant changes in a given care home. Ombudsmen can be found through the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.