Get help with finding long-term care - or skilled nursing - for your loved one in this four-part series. Find articles with tips on deciding if it’s needed, talking about it with your family members, what the costs will be, and how to find the right option for your loved one.
More than ever before, there are a multitude of ways to learn about and compare skilled nursing community options. With each community offering different services, amenities, and care options, it’s critical to do your research.
Fortunately, this process doesn’t have to be difficult. Try the tips outlined below to help you compare skilled nursing communities and find the one that’s right for your loved one.
At-Home Care vs. Moving to Long-Term Care
First, as you compare options, you’ll likely think about the difference between your loved one receiving professional care at home versus them moving to a skilled nursing community.
There are pros and cons to each option, and while at-home care might seem to be simpler and less stressful, it may not be the best long-term option for your loved one. Take a look at the chart below to see some of the biggest differences between the two.
This chart lists some of the differences between a skilled nursing community and in-home care, but do research on both options to decide which is right for your loved one.
At Otterbein SeniorLife, our health care navigators can also help you decide which option is best. Contact a navigator >>
Starting Your Skilled Nursing Search
If a skilled nursing community seems right for your loved one, begin your search by gathering information about nearby locations. You’ll probably want to look either near your home or your loved one’s current home.
Ask family, friends, doctors, or religious leaders who have experience with skilled nursing if they have any recommendations. You may learn about a community you hadn’t known about and will hear first-hand about the experience there.
Next, let the internet do some of the legwork for you. Visit a long-term care community’s website to learn about the options they offer, amenities, and more. You can learn a lot about the organization from their website - like how easy it is to find information, how user-friendly the site is, and if people have left reviews.
You’ll want to narrow down the communities that can offer what you’re looking for, including:
Room type (private or semi-private).
Specific services your loved one needs, such as memory care.
Values that align with your own.
Budget and cost information - although many communities may not list this online, since it depends on the individual who needs care.
Touring Long-Term Care Communities
Compile a list of several top picks that you want to learn more about, and find some time in your schedule to take a visit.
Many long-term care communities offer a variety of options for taking tours. For example, you may be able to visit at different times of the day to observe activities and events.
While you’re there, bring along a notebook and pen to write down your thoughts and observations, as well as any questions you want to ask. You should also be on the lookout for the following things as you tour:
Are the residents dressed properly for the time of day and season?
Are the residents taking part in activities or just sitting around?
Do the residents and caregivers seem to be friendly toward one another?
Do the meals in the dining room look appetizing and healthy?
Are the room sizes about what you expected?
Do you notice any overwhelming smells?
Do you think your loved one would fit in well here?
After the tour, make sure to ask the staff member any questions you had. Some good ones would be about the staff’s experience and qualifications, the way meals are served, how residents can expect to get help if they need it, and what the costs are.
Make sure to note the staff member’s contact information for follow-up. If you have the opportunity to visit a community more than once, it can be beneficial to see different aspects of that community.
Deciding on a Skilled Nursing Community
Once you’ve toured all your options and gotten your questions answered, the right skilled nursing community for your loved one may be obvious - a place where their needs will be taken care of, where they will enjoy life, and where you can feel good about them moving to.
On the other hand, if you aren’t sure about the right choice, do some follow-up with those communities. Ask any lingering questions you may have, and don’t be shy if you have a question you perceive as uncomfortable.
In the end, aside from finding a community that aligns with your budget, needs, and values, choosing the right skilled nursing community may come down to a gut feeling.
If a community seems perfect on the outside but just doesn’t seem to fit your loved one, that’s OK - your feelings are probably right!
Don’t be afraid of making the “wrong decision” - if you’re honestly keeping your loved one’s best interests in mind and do your research, you’ll find the place that’s right for them.
Learn More About Skilled Nursing at Otterbein SeniorLife
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