When the time comes for you to move an elderly relative into a nursing home, it can be a stressful time. Choosing a nursing home is often one of the hardest parts of the process, and it’s important to know what to look for when making this decision.

When home care is no longer an option for your loved one, the time will come when you need to look into nursing home options. There are a great number of options available when it comes to residential care homes and many varieties of care offered by different homes.

It goes without saying that you, and your family, should visit several nursing homes before making a decision, and you should feel comfortable to pay multiple visits while you make your mind up. When visiting the nursing homes, be aware of your surroundings.  Knowing the things to look for is vital if you want to make a decision that is right for all involved.

Here are five things to look out for when choosing a nursing home:

  • The nursing home team

    First and foremost, make sure that the care team at the nursing home is first-rate. See what information is available about them; what experience do they have? What qualifications or standards do they work to? Most nursing homes now have a website which will contain a page of information about the nursing home team.

  • Inspection score

    All nursing homes are inspected regularly to ensure that they meet certain standards of care and hygiene. The very first thing you should do either when you visit a nursing home, or ahead of your visit, is to look up their recent scores or results of inspections.  Homes that are failing should probably be avoided, while if any are borderline and you wish to visit them, make a note of areas they struggled on ahead of your visit.  You can then ask the staff, or see for yourself, what steps are being taken to improve standards in these areas.

  • Access

    Every resident moving into a nursing home has different requirements when it comes to moving around. You will need to carefully consider the requirements of your relatives, and then when visiting the nursing home always be analyzing the building in relation to those requirements.  For example, if you require a ground floor room for your family member, ensure that there are no large steps in and out of rooms or corridors on that ground floor.  Are there handrails to support them when walking, even on flat surfaces?

  • Resident’s well-being

    You can read as much as you like about a nursing home before visiting, but being there in-person is the best way to get a feel for the place. You will be expecting a high standard of care for your loved one when they move to the nursing home, so pay attention to the existing residents when you visit.  Do they look well cared for? Some of the signs to look out for include clean clothes, dressed appropriately (e.g. wrapped up warm in winter) and just their general appearance.  If they do not look cared-for, alarm bells should be ringing in your own mind.

  • Interaction between residents and guests

    This is another aspect that you can only really analyze once you arrive at a nursing home for a visit. You want your loved one to enjoy life at the nursing home, and so key to this is the relationship they will have with the staff there.  When you visit, pay attention to the interaction between staff and residents. It should be warm, friendly and above all else, caring.

  • Ample facilities

    Last but not least, you need to make sure that the facilities the nursing home have are going to be right for your relative. If they need their own bathroom, then check that the rooms offer this.  If they are having a room on an upper floor, are there lifts of some sort provided for easier access? A good exercise to do ahead of your visit to a nursing home is to write down the types of tasks your loved one needs to do every day.  When you visit the nursing home, run through these tasks in your own mind and see if the facilities provided make it easy to do so.

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