5 questions to ask when looking for a skilled nursing facility


Believe it or not, that day will come when you or a loved one will need additional care. But with almost 16,000 nursing homes operating in the U.S., how can you find the best facility for your family? The first step is searching Medicare ratings for facilities in the desired area. Then, schedule a tour. And while you have a staff member or administrator available, here are five questions to ask about the facility.

1.What are the specific points of your Medicare rating?

This is truly the most objective way to measure clinical care. And it’s a great place to start when looking for a skilled nursing facility. For example, one of the criteria of this rating addresses staff attentiveness and nurse-to-patient ratio. A large nursing care staff means your loved one will receive a faster response to personal needs.

2. Ask about the shower schedule

Inquiring about the bathing schedule presents a clear picture of personal hygiene for residents. “The state mandates two showers per week, but many residents want to shower more often, even daily, and they should be allowed to have that option,” said Nathan Beck, administrator at Beachside Nursing Center. Also, ask to see the bathroom or shower area.

3. What is a typical day like?

Healthcare is certainly a top priority, but what can residents do when they aren’t seeing their doctor or engaged in rehabilitative therapy? Most five-star skilled nursing care facilities encourage socially engaging activities with residents and family, field trips, parties, hair salon services, exercise classes, and in-house entertainment or events. A typical day should offer services that cater to all aspects of a patient’s life.

4. What is the menu?

The amenities and accommodations within a skilled nursing center should be professional, comfortable, and welcoming–especially the dining room. Most highly-rated facilities are proud to share a sample of their menu. But, it’s helpful to ask if an alternative menu is available. Residents rely entirely on nursing homes to meet their nutritional needs. Healthy, tasty food improves everyone’s quality of life,” says Lisa Esposito, staff writer US News & World Report. “People in nursing homes still want to enjoy meals that evoke family traditions and tastes they’ve developed over their lives.”

Today’s skilled nursing dining rooms should be pleasant and often cater to the area’s cultures as well as specific dietary needs. So be sure to ask about meal plan options.

5. Are these rooms or amenities available for everyone?

It’s not uncommon for a facility to show tour guests the biggest rooms and the most modern equipment in the gym or dining room. But are those amenities available to every resident? If the administrator presents a large private bedroom, for example, ask if all of the rooms are this size. Also, be sure to ask about personal visits by family members or access to wifi, computers, or phone use. Family members should clarify that they can easily contact their loved one whenever they want. “Beachside nursing offers a direct line for each patient so families and friends can easily get in touch with loved ones,” said Beck.  

A good facility should welcome questions and a tour at any time. Such willingness to show a prospective client around is a good sign that this facility is constantly prepared for a surprise evaluation from government and state agencies. What you see is what you should get for your loved one. If you face the need of finding skilled nursing care that is right for you or your family, asking the right questions is an important part of ensuring the right fit for your long-term needs.

This article was originally published by Orange County Register.

Video courtesy of Good Day Orange County


About Author

I am the Founder of Stage Marketing and specialize in healthcare marketing. My doctorate is in communication, which means that I draw from the areas of psychology, sociology, and the humanities to understand the emotional and spiritual side of health.

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