As your loved ones get older, you want to make sure that they’re happy and cared for. For some seniors, this may mean planning regular visits or hiring a caregiver. For others, a long-term nursing facility is worth considering. Skilled care is a wonderful way to make sure your loved ones are safe and to maintain the peace of mind of knowing that they have easy access to medical care and social activities. If you’re considering skilled care or want to know more so you can prepare for the future, it’s helpful to understand what exactly skilled care is, when it’s helpful, and how to assess skilled nursing facilities.
What are skilled nursing facilities?
Skilled nursing facilities are residential nursing homes that care for seniors and have 24/7 on-site medical support. These homes employ medical professionals including RNs, LPNs, and CNAs. These homes offer skilled care, which is physical or emotional assistance that must be provided or overseen by licensed medical personnel. Skilled nursing facilities provide short-term rehabilitation for those recovering from temporary conditions as well as long-term care for those with ongoing needs. In addition to providing medical care, skilled nursing facilities provide activities and community for their residents: most have regular programming, social events, and amenities.
When should you consider skilled care?
If your loved one is unable to care for themselves without significant support, skilled care is a wonderful option. For some seniors, skilled care is required due to conditions such as stroke recovery, wound care needs, or assistance with chronic or terminal illness, such as Parkinson’s. Others may consider skilled care for loved ones that take regular medication, require catheter usage, or need help with meals and hygiene. If you worry about your loved one caring for themselves, skilled care is a wonderful option.
How is patient care regulated at skilled nursing facilities?
In order to remain licensed, skilled nursing facilities undergo random, annual surveys. These surveys assess health and safety standards, staffing levels, and resident care. The results are publicly available and can be used to search for different homes.
How do you decide what facility is right for your loved one?
When considering skilled care, you want a facility that will take care of your loved one and will allow them to participate in activities that they enjoy. Here are some factors to consider when exploring skilled nursing facilities:
- Is the facility located near family and friends that will be able to visit? Will your loved one enjoy the weather?
- Do residents have private rooms? What kinds of activities or programming is offered? Are residents on a regular schedule? How do staff manage mealtimes and dispense medications?
- What is the staffing level (amount of staff, number of staff per resident, etc.)? Do staff members typically work at the facility for a long time, or is there regular turnover? Do they seem prepared for emergencies?
- Survey results. Has the facility performed well on state surveys? If they’ve ever had violations, have they addressed them?
- Infection rate. What is the frequency of resident infection and how is it handled? Infection is an ongoing problem in nursing homes and it is one of the clearest indicators of health and safety.
If you are able to tour the facilities, you can also see how happy and engaged the residents seem, and how prepared the staff are to answer your questions.
If you’re considering skilled care for your elderly loved one, you may want to talk to them about how they’re feeling and what would feel right for them. You may also want to consider transitioning your loved one to skilled care by first hiring a caregiver or bringing them on tours of different facilities. Above all, if you keep your loved one’s best interests at heart and inform yourself about different options for skilled care, you are certain to make a good decision.
This guest post was graciously provided by Farlyn Lucas