Determining what type of long-term care setting or facility is right for you or your loved one is a matter of personal preference, and any medical or non-medical needs you may have. The first step to selecting the right care environment is to research facilities in your area, their reputation, and what services and amenities they can offer.
Referrals — Talk to your physician, friends who have had experiences with local facilities, hospital social workers, and other health care professionals.
Texas Health Care Association — Call THCA at 800-380-2500 for a list of licensed facilities in your area.
Online Tools — Many online tools and resources exist to help with the process of finding the most appropriate long-term care settings.
Long Term Care Facility Locator — Click here to go to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services website to find and compare long term care facilities.
SeniorHomes.com provides an excellent checklist and facility locator that can help start your search.
Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, developed by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is another good tool.
Once you have identified potential facilities, call or visit the facilities in-person and speak with the staff and patients there.
First, be sure the facility is licensed as a nursing facility by the State of Texas. State regulators visit Texas facilities – unannounced – every 9 to 15 months to ensure that state and federal standards are maintained. These inspection reports are available at the facility for you to review. Ask the administrator for details.
Other considerations include:
-Quality and attitude of the staff and management
-Security and privacy for residents
-Therapeutic diets/special menus
Fresh paint and new furniture may give a good impression, but do not tell the whole story. Skilled nursing facilities are licensed and monitored for adherence to strict infection control standards, general cleanliness, medication administration, nursing care, and food service provisions. An important consideration is the quality and attitude of the staff and management. By necessity, a nursing facility is a medical facility, but it should also have a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Talk with everyone from the administrator to the director of admissions, nurses, visitors, volunteers, and family members of residents at the facility.
While you are observing the environment, notice whether there is good interaction between staff and residents, as well as the activity level of residents. Each facility has a social worker who serves as an advocate for the residents. You should feel comfortable visiting with the social worker, expressing concerns, and asking questions relating to your loved one’s needs.
It depends on the situation of each individual resident or patient. Some facilities specialize in certain types of chronic disease care, while others may have specialized activities particularly suited to your loved one. Some facilities have religious sponsors or ethnic ties. Also, facilities offer varying levels of services.
Among the list of considerations, two criteria are obvious:
-Does the resident like the setting?
-Is the location convenient for you to visit as often as you would like?
At least one visit should be by appointment with the admissions director, social worker, or administrator so you can get a complete tour and have your questions answered. If you have the luxury of time, go during the week to talk with the administrator; then go on the weekend to observe the facility operating with less supervision. Visit during the noon or evening meal. Then visit again. Visit until you are comfortable.