For all levels of care other than independent senior housing, it is important to follow a number of steps that help determine which type of care is most suitable. If the person is in a hospital, the social services department or a discharge planner will recommend a level of care at discharge. If it is a nursing home, a patient review instrument (PRI) will be completed. The PRI is discussed in more detail in the “nursing home” section of this guide.
Speak with your medical professional and be honest about how much help is needed with the activities of daily living. Using these activities as a guide, the medical professional will be able to recommend a level of care.
Visit: Nothing substitutes for a personal visit. During such visits, you can observe factors that may influence your choice. For example, you will be able to view on a first-hand basis the interaction between staff and residents as well as familiarize yourself with the amenities and routines of that particular place.
Take Notes: Take notes during or immediately following your visit and review them prior to narrowing down your choices. Ask to meet the administrator, program director, director of nursing, director of social work, director of physical therapy, director of dietary, and anyone else you think might make a difference in your life. Under each section of care defined earlier in this guide, we have provided a helpful checklist of factors to consider when making your choice.
Keep it Personal: Personal preferences are critical when selecting a long term care provider. Make sure the types of services, activities and environment are suitable to your needs. Discuss your hobbies and interests, and ask if there will be activities or events available that tie in well with what you like to do.
Look Around: Look at the people living in the facility or receiving the services. Are they well-groomed and occupied with different activities? Observe a mealtime to see how the food is presented. Unless you are on a restricted diet, ask to taste some of the food. Look at the living or program space. Are the common areas clean, comfortable and attractively decorated? Does the staff seem friendly and interested in the services being provided?
Ask Questions: Don’t think that your concern is “silly” or “minor.” It’s better to clarify any questions you have before making a major life decision such as this. Now is not the time to be timid about asking questions! If you are looking at a nursing home, adult home, enriched housing program or assisted living facility, ask to see the most recent inspection report or survey. These should be readily available. Ask questions about any “deficiencies” that may have been cited by the inspecting team. You have a right to know the results of those inspections.
Consider Payment/Insurance Coverage: Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance coverage of the different service options varies greatly. See Covering Costs of Care for more information.