Before choosing a particular nursing home for care and housing,investigate whether it is certified to accept the type of payment you can provide and is reputable and reliable as well as a good fit for your needs.
Doing Initial Research
Compile a list of potential facilities to consider using the criteria mentioned here that seem most important. Then look at more of the specifics.
Form of payment accepted. CalQualityCare.org indicates whether a facility accepts Medicare or Medi-Cal payments in addition to private payments. This is important because those that do not accept Medi-Cal may make a resident move out when Medicare stops paying or the resident can no longer pay with personal funds.
Quality ratings. The type and training of staff, along with management’sresponse to concerns and complaints obviously affect the quality of care. There should be enough staff, adequately trained and experienced, to provide clients with individual and professional attention. CalQualityCare.org hones in on these concerns by providing four performance ratings for nursing homes, from poor to superior, including:
- Overall Rating: A summary rating of the facility based on the Staffing and Quality of Facility ratings
- Staffing: A rating based on the number of registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses, direct care personnel hours, and total staff hours per client per day
- Quality of Facility: Based on the number of deficiencies and complaints the facility received during recent state and federal inspections and investigations
- Quality of Care: Based on how well a facility meets varying federal standards for caring for residents’ needs, such as how well it deals with bedsores and whether it commonly uses catheters and restraints
Getting Additional Information
Phone the nursing homes on your list and briefly explain the essentials you seek. Find out whether the facility can take on new residents or if there is a waiting list. Also ask whether it will be able to meet any specific needs you have identified.
Costs.To avoid surprises, ask what charges and fees you should expect. Some key questions:
- What is the base price? What does it include?
- What services require additional fees?
- Under what circumstances could rates be increased?
Basic documents and policies. If a particular facility seems promising, ask for copies of descriptive brochures, admissions policies, admission contract, and the resident’s rights policy. You may also want to get details about issues that are potential sticking points, including the facility’s policy for holding a bed if a resident requires hospitalization.
Licensing, insurance, and accreditations. Ask whether the provider is licensed by any state or government agency, whether it is covered by appropriate insurance, and whether it has any special accreditations of quality from outside organizations.
CalQualityCare.org includes only licensed nursing homes. For questions about whether a facility is properly licensed, contact the nearest California Department of Public Health’s Licensing and Certification District Office.
Financial stability. Learn as much as possible about the finances of the nursing homes you are considering. Here, too, CalQualityCare.org helps you get started by providing preliminary information about each facility’s income and operating expenses, found in the Costs and Finances section of each facility profile.
Visiting the Facilities
Ask to meet with the nursing home’s administrator and admissions director; request that one of them give you a tour and answer questions. Visit all the places on your list to compare how they look and feel, paying special attention to the quality of care provided and the residents’quality of life. The best time to visit for the first time is on a weekday in the late morning or middle of the day to see whether residents have adequate care and activities outside of scheduled mealtimes.
Use the comprehensive checklist “Evaluating a Care Facility” to help structure the questions you ask and the things you observe while at the facilities.
Potential residents should also tour a facility before signing on for care there, both to help determine whether the place is comfortable and to begin the process of getting familiar with the new surroundings.
If you have any lingering concerns, consider discussing them with the facility’s ombudsman, a trained impartial individual who advocates for residents. Contact the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program or ask the nursing home’s administrative staff for the contact information. Their response to your request to speak with the ombudsman may be a good test of the staff’s openness and responsiveness to your concerns.