This week's New York Times' Health section offers suggestions for families choosing a nursing home for a loved one.
The article recognizes that, unfortunately, the majority of nursing home placements come after a person has been hospitalized, and that families often have very little time to fully explore their options. However, many of these suggestions are useful even if you do not have much time before you have to decide upon a particular nursing home.
The article also emphasizes the importance of visiting potential nursing homes, preferably at different times of the day, and using this checklist to review basic aspects of the nursing home.
Also important in choosing the right home for your loved one is the nursing home's guiding philosophy. The article suggests that you ask about "person-centered care" and "consistent assignment," burgeoning trends in the nursing home industry that can increase the quality of resident care. While person-centered care focuses on allowing the residents to make their own schedules and maintain a degree of autonomy, consistent assignment focuses on the staff of the nursing home. In a nursing home which practices consistent assignment, the same caregivers, nurses, and doctors attend to the same person as regularly as possible--allowing them to create lasting relationships, which positively affects the resident's care. High staff turnover, on the other hand, can mean that resident care suffers--which is why the article suggests that you avoid nursing homes with over 50% annual turnover.
Finally, it recommends you call your local Ombudsman's program to learn more about facilities you may be considering. In New Mexico, the Ombudsman's bureau is a division of the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department. Information on this program can be found at its website. In New Mexico, there are five local and regional ombudsmen, in addition to the State Ombudsman.