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Tips for Selecting a Nursing Home

Selecting a nursing home can be a difficult task. The purpose of this site is to provide you background knowledge about nursing homes, what to expect, and beginning general guidance. The overall goal of nursing home care is to assist individual residents to attain or maintain their highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.

May 13-19 is National Nursing Home Week (NNHW) 2012. The week provides an opportunity to honor all those who contribute to our nation’s nursing homes – residents, family members, employees and volunteers. This year's theme is "Fulfilling the Promise." Learn more about NNHW from the American Health Care Association.

The Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Provider Standards, wishes to provide you some information and resources available to help you make an informed selection regarding nursing home placement. Using our Health Care Facilities Directory, start a list of nursing homes in your area geographically located convenient to you, your family or friends. Our list will tell you whether they are Medicare or Medicare and Medicaid certified, the number of beds, and if they provide skilled nursing care.

Also available are the results of the most recent survey conducted by our staff. These results list areas the facility did not meet Federal requirements for certification, how severe the problem was, and how many residents were affected. Refer to our Health Care Facilities home page to review health care facilities deficiencies

Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hosts a site which allows you to compare nursing homes nationally.

Once you've started your list, talk to friends, neighbors or coworkers about recent experiences they had with any of the nursing homes. Following these reviews, call the facilities and schedule an appointment for a tour.

Some of the things you will want to observe for are:

  • Residents are clean, appropriately dressed, well groomed and have a pleasant attitude
  • Both the inside and outside of the nursing home appears clean and well-kept.
  • The level of lighting, sounds, odors, temperature and furnishings are agreeable and pleasant.
  • Staff wear name tags and interactions with residents are warm, polite and respectful.
  • Resident rooms incorporate resident's belonging and have a homelike atmosphere.
  • Meals are appealing and staff assist residents at meal and snack times.
  • Resident rooms and common areas have adequate safety precautions (handrails, call lights, nonskid surfaces, smoke detectors, sprinklers).
  • Residents are participating in meaningful activities.

Things you will need to ask about are:

  • Levels of care provided and special needs that can be addressed, custodial care, personal care (barbers and beauticians), skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social services, mental health services, podiatry services.
  • Payment and financial obligations for services covered.
  • Staff education is provided to all staff including prevention/detection of resident abuse.
  • Whether or not hiring practices include a background check.
  • Physician selection and availability.
  • How food likes, dislikes, and menu choices are made.
  • Review an activity calendar and see if any of the activities are of interest to you. Ask how activities are adapted for residents with differing needs.

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