Although the process of selecting a long-term care facility for a loved one can be stressful and time-consuming, there are a number of helpful techniques for identifying and evaluating nursing homes. It is important to try to not get overwhelmed by the decision and to involve the prospective resident in the selection process as much as possible. Some basic factors to consider are location, quality and cost.
It’s estimated that 14 percent of all people over age 65 have two to three chronic conditions that erode their ability to live independently. Based on that statistic, nearly 11 million baby boomers are expected to need nursing home assistance. Kentucky has 289 certified nursing homes across the state, with a total of 27,000 beds and a variety of ownership models. Some long-term care facilities are for-profit agencies (commonly owned by chains or corporations), while others are managed by non-profit organizations.
Consider proximity and convenience for those people who will be visiting the resident most often. Residents who have frequent visitors tend to be happier and healthier from the attention received — and are apt to receive a higher quality of care than someone who has few visitors. When family members and friends are close enough to visit frequently, they can monitor the resident’s condition, participate in care planning, and respond quickly to emergencies.
Nursing facilities are subject to both state and federal regulation to ensure that residents receive quality care. Nursing homes are inspected at least once every 15 months for compliance with about 170 federal regulatory requirements. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been given the responsibility of inspecting Kentucky’s nursing homes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Nursing homes that have a history of serious problems are inspected more frequently.
CMS currently rates 109 Kentucky nursing homes as “Above Average” and 122 facilities as “Below Average.” These numbers are based on a 5-star rating system that has its strengths as well as its limitations, and as such, should be taken as only part of the overall picture. Nursing homes must have notices posted to tell you where the inspection results are kept. You can also view these reports on the Cabinet’s website.
While our attorneys serve all of Eastern KY, with offices in Pikeville we were curious about the ratings for Pike County nursing homes. As of February 2015, Good Shepherd Community Nursing Center in Phelps and Williamson ARH in South Williamson had significantly better overall ratings than Mountain View Health Care Center in Elkhorn City, Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pikeville, and Signature Healthcare of Pikeville.
Senior living with skilled nursing comes at a price, though fees range widely. A 2015 survey estimated that the average monthly care costs in Kentucky were $6,327 for a semi-private room and $7,270 for a private room in a nursing home. The monthly base rate for Kentucky nursing homes is typically lower when compared to neighboring states and less expensive than the national average. Factors that contribute to cost variance include services offered, amenities offered, size of facility and location.
Once you have chosen a nursing home that seems like a strong possibility, go for a visit. There is no substitute for a visit to have questions answered and show you what areas you need to remain vigilant about. Don’t be distracted by a well-decorated lobby or an overly-friendly tour guide. This is where your loved one will be living – ask questions of staff and residents, and stop by a second time on a different day of the week at a different time to get a truer picture of the facility. Also, if the situation isn’t urgent and there are several facilities in your area, try to compare at least three to get an accurate depiction of what nursing home life can be like.
Sample Questions to Consider:
- Is there adequate staff?
- Is the staff polite to residents or do they talk “down,” as if the residents are not there?
- Do residents have a choice of roommates? What procedures are in place if there is a problem?
- Are there smoke detectors and sprinklers?
- Are the residents well-groomed?
- Are residents allowed to personalize their room?
- Is the kitchen clean?
- How is the food? Is it nutritious?
- What sorts of activities are there?
- What is done for holidays and birthdays?
- Are there outdoor areas for resident use?
We Can Help
Nursing home facilities can be great resources for patients who need skilled care. If you are considering a nursing home for your aging loved one, plan ahead and do lots of research to find the best match. While we hope that your experience is a positive one, not all facilities provide quality care. If you believe that your loved one has suffered an injury or a decline in their condition due to the care they have received at their nursing home, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. Contact us by calling 606-433-0682 or filling out our online form.