MD Nursing Home Checklist: What to Look for Before Placing Your Loved One

Despite your best efforts to help them maintain their independence, a nursing home may be the best, most practical option to ensure their health and happiness for as long as possible. If you do some research, you may find the best match for your family and lessen the chances your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse.

Depending on your circumstances and how wide the geographic area of Maryland you’re looking in, you may find there aren’t many options. This is especially true if your family member needs a high level of care, the need for placement is urgent, or you lack private, long-term-care insurance. There are also larger forces at play that may limit your choices:

  • The number of nursing homes is shrinking while the senior population is growing, according to MarketWatch.
  • The number of nursing homes could decrease by as much as 20% in the next five to ten years as operators face more demand but lower reimbursements.
  • Relatively few people can pay for nursing home care out of pocket for any period of time (the average cost is about $9,000/month) and Medicaid reimbursement normally doesn’t cover all the costs of care resulting in financial losses.
  • Medicare and Medicaid are shifting enrollees to health insurance plans to provide nursing home benefits. Those plans may have a limited selection of nursing homes.

Here are some things you and your family should think about: Is there a better alternative to a nursing home? Are in-home services available? Would an assisted living facility be a better fit? Ask your friends, family, hospital social worker and the family member’s primary doctor what facilities he or she would recommend and which ones should be avoided.

There are many resources to use and ways to compare the quality of life and care afforded to nursing home residents. Use reliable online guides to get a better idea about the facility. They include Nursing Home Compare from Medicare and the Maryland Health Care Commission’s Consumer’s Guide to Long Term Care.

Visit the facility and ask questions of an administrator. These are some of the issues you should discuss and questions to ask according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care booklet:

  • Are the nursing home and current administrator licensed in Maryland? Is the nursing home Medicare and/or Medicaid certified? (If not find another facility.)
  • What insurance networks does the facility participate in or anticipate participating in?
  • Are residents treated with respect? Are residents given an opportunity to make choices or decisions about their activities or care?
  • When can visitors come?
  • What steps are taken to maintain a resident’s privacy?
  • What activities are available?
  • Who makes the plan of care? How are the resident’s needs determined and how much input does the resident, or their loved ones, have?
  • Which doctors provide care for residents? Can a resident’s see his or her personal doctor? Can transportation be arranged to see an outside doctor? Does the facility make sure residents have access to preventative health care?
  • If a resident is confused and wanders or elopes, how is this handled by the staff?
  • Ask to see the nursing home’s inspection report from the State of Maryland to find out if there were quality of care problems and if so what caused them and what steps were taken to prevent them from happening again.
  • Ask to see the most recent health department and fire inspection reports. If there were any problems were they addressed?
  • Is there sufficient staff? Will the resident work with the same people or does staff constantly change? Ask to see job postings to judge how many openings there are, how this impacts care, and ask how quickly they should be filled.
  • What types of therapy are offered? How available are therapy staff?
  • Is a social worker available?
  • What religious or cultural support is available? Do food options comply with the resident’s faith?
  • Get a copy of any policies the resident would need to follow.
  • How safe is the nursing home? Are personal belongings secure in residents’ rooms? Is the facility locked at night?

Part of the guide (pages 26-31) is a checklist of questions and issues you should cover when visiting a nursing home.

Whether someone should enter a nursing home — and, if so, which one — is a difficult question. With some time and effort you can narrow your search and try to find the right facility you can trust to care for your loved one. If the facility turns out not to be as advertised and neglect or abuse occurs, we can help. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 1-866-529-5839 today to schedule a free consultation.

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