Navigating into long-term care with your loved one

One of the most difficult processes to embark is placing a loved one in long-term care, either assisted living or skilled nursing facility.  This is particularly difficult when your loved one is not able to contribute to that decision making process.  People are often overcome with guilt over having to place someone in long-term care and concerned that that person will receive the care that he or she needs and deserves, as well as making sure the community is a good fit for your loved one.  These communities offer different services and amenities and it is important to look at all aspects of that community, not just the type of care.  The most important step that any caregiver could take is to be informed.

Do your homework.  Whether your loved one is transitioning from home or hospital or for permanent or temporary stays, the homework is the same.  Investigate all the communities in the area of your choice.  Review the inspections conducted by the licensing agent.  Assisted living communities are governed by the Virginia Department of Social Services and inspections can be reviewed at www.dss.virginia.gov/facility/search/alf.cgi .  Skilled Nursing Facilities are governed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the State and inspections can be reviewed at http://www.medicare.gov/NursingHomeCompare/search.aspx.   You can also ask to see these inspections while touring the community.  Do not hesitate to ask about violations that were received.  The community should be glad to discuss this with you, as well as steps that were implemented to make sure those violations aren’t repeated.

More than one tour should be taken when selecting a community.  Schedule a formal tour as well as make an unannounced tour, perhaps during the evening hours or on weekends.  Any staff member should be able to provide you with a good tour and information, regardless of administration presence.  

Word of mouth is always a good indicator of the reputation of a community.  Caution should be taken in listening to advice from someone’s experience that isn’t recent.  This could not be indicative of the current operations of a community.  No community is perfect, so make sure the information you are receiving is factual and most importantly, current.  

Most importantly, your loved one should be as happy as he or she can be during and while they transition.

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