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At-a-Glance Guide to Skilled Nursing Care in Cincinnati

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Nursing home resident and nurse

You always expected that this day would come– your parents need more care and attention than you can provide at home. You just didn’t expect it to come so quickly. But you can still stay ahead of the curve even if you haven’t put much thought into long-term care until now.

It’s time to explore your options for skilled nursing care in Cincinnati.

Most people get caught up in the profound emotional ramifications of such decisions which is understandable. But it’s important not to let emotions overshadow your judgment as you assess whether a community is the best home for your loved one.

Do your research.

Ask friends and medical professionals for referrals— then take that step that many regard as the most daunting part of this decision-making process. Schedule a visit to a skilled nursing facility.

You’ll probably only have about 30 to 90 minutes during your tour to formulate your impressions, so you need to make the most of your time.

Know what you should be looking for.

There are so many things to consider that it can hard to keep track, so don’t be afraid to prepare a checklist for yourself. The federal government’s Medicare website offers an extensive list of questions that may help you prepare for your own tour.

Since the process can be so overwhelming, try to break observations into three areas

1. Facility
2. Staff (which includes the level of care)
3. Residents.

As you go on, you may find that other categories are important to you, so change the list as you need to. Just be sure you have it ready to go when you visit.

Ask questions– lots of them— and don’t be afraid to write down the answers.

THE FACILITY

They say first impressions of people are important, and the same holds true when you’re visiting a skilled nursing facility.

  • Is it clean? Well-lit? Are there enough windows?
  • Is there a sense of organization or are the halls cluttered with equipment?
  • Is it warm/cool enough? Can people control the temperature in their own rooms or are they reliant on a central control?
  • Are there any rules about visitors? Isolation can be a problem for some residents, so you want to be sure there aren’t impediments that will keep you from seeing your parents.

It’s impossible to know exactly how a facility operates when you’re not there, but you can look for signs that indicate attention to detail.

  • Are there safety features like handrails in the hallways and grab bars in bathrooms?
  • Is the dining room an appealing, well-lit space? For that matter, how is the food? See if you can join residents for a meal and try it yourself.
  • Be sure to glance at the community bulletin board, too, to see what sorts of activities take place and how often.

THE STAFF

When you’re entrusting your parents to a skilled nursing facility, you want to know that they’ll be well- taken care of, and that means more than medical care.  Manners, attitude and openness are important. Hospitality can be just a significant measure of a community's worth as well.

  • Are you greeted respectfully and promptly by staff? Do you get a sense that you are genuinely welcome here or does your tour seem like an imposition?
  • Meals offer another chance to observe staff-resident interaction. If a resident needs assistance eating or getting to the dining room, is that assistance given in a friendly and efficient manner? 
  • What are interactions like between staff and residents? Are staff members friendly and patient? How willing are they to accommodate different resident needs and interests?

These are the sorts of things that are worth noting as they can either be an indignity for a resident or offer a reaffirming sense of worth.

THE RESIDENTS

The treatment and disposition of current residents can be a good indicator of how your parents will fair at a particular community.

  • Do the residents seem to be happy and engaged, or do they seem dreary and overmedicated?
  • Is help rendered in a friendly and timely manner if a resident needs assistance getting dressed? Are they clean?
  • Are residents able to indulge in activities other than watching television? What diversions are available?

Again, try to schedule your visit near a meal time. This is one of the few occasions when you’re likely to meet the residents en masse. Talk with them about their own experiences.

Likewise, if you see family members visiting, don’t be hesitant to ask about their experiences with the facility as they're likely to have invaluable insights that can be an incomparable help when it comes to your own decision-making.

Don’t be afraid of coming back two or three times and visit at different times of day—weekends, holidays.

Helping your parents choose a skilled nursing facility is every bit as important a decision as purchasing a new house. Perhaps even more important. You’re not just helping your loved one pick a new apartment; you’re helping them pick an entire community.

 

Worried about a loved one?  Download our tipsheet to decide if it's time to talk about senior care.
Bryan Reynolds
By
January 16, 2014
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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