How to choose the right place for your loved one
Choosing the right place for your loved one is never easy. Nursing homes, assisted living, at home care; there are a lot of options to look at. How do you know you are making the right choice? Private Home Care, Inc. is here to help! There are some basic questions you can ask as well as some resources you can use to check out facilities and caregivers.
One resource offered by the State of Maine is an online list for all agencies licensed by the state. You can click the link below to get all the information you are looking for on licensed facilities.
Another useful resource is nursinghomerating.org. The information is not as current as the Maine.gov website but it is easy to use. Click the link below to check it out.
Looking at a Facility
When you go to visit a nursing home or assisted living facility be sure to check out a few things while you are there. Always have a meal in the dining area when you visit. This will give you an idea of the food quality. Is the food fresh? How is the dining room? Can you enjoy your meal? These are all very important things. This will help you to decide if the facility is right for your loved one.
Second, as you walk through the halls how do the floors feel? If your feet are sticking to the floors you may want to think again. Do you hear people yelling for help or bells going off? Are there plenty of staff to help everyone who needs it? This will give you a chance to see the response time of the staff. While observing the staff, notice if they are tired or overworked? Is there enough staff to take care of everyone? Often facilities will hire a “floater” which is a person who moves from floor to floor filling in where needed. The floater helps to meet the quota of staff needed on different floors. Don’t be shy about asking how many floaters they have working at that time and how many people are assigned to just this floor or wing.
The biggest thing to remember is not to be afraid to ask questions! We always encourage people to watch how staff interacts with the patients as well as with their co-workers. You can get a real feel of the environment just by watching facial expressions or listening to the way people talk to each another.
After you have chosen a Facility
Once you have chosen a facility be sure to drop in occasionally. You can ask to see the medication log of your loved one or ask if there have been any incidents involving them. If there has been an incident you can ask to see the report. If you don’t understand the report, ask a staff member to explain it to you. They cannot let the original report leave the facility, but you have the right to ask for a copy. You can then take it home and review it again.
Ask the staff about your loved one. Do they know them by name or by room number? Be sure to do surprise visits around meal times, evening hours and first thing in the morning if you can. It’s important to see all aspects of the day to day life of your loved one. Ask questions when you stop to visit. When was their last shower? Have they been outside today? What activities will be happening throughout the week? Write down the answers and ask follow-up questions the next week. The old saying stands true, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This means that if the staff expects you to ask questions each visit they will pay more attention, so they can answer those questions. As time goes on and you get more comfortable you may end up backing off on your visits. Just be sure to make monthly surprise visits here and there. It’s good to keep people on their toes!
Choosing an In-Home Care Agency or Private Person
Just like when looking at a facility, you want to make sure you check more than just one. When it comes to in-home care, people will be coming to you or your loved one, so it is important to have a plan for what you will ask. Trust your gut! A few things you should let people know before they come to your house to be interviewed are:
Do you have animals they should be aware of?
Will the person who needs care be open to them coming to visit?
Will they be able to find your house easily?
Do they take your Insurance?
Once you have chosen two or three agencies to interview, here are a few questions you should ask:
How many caregivers will be coming into my home?
How will I know who the caregivers are?
How will I know the caregivers are safe?
What is the hourly cost?
Do you take private insurance?
Do you take Medicare or Medicaid?
Are there any administrative fees?
Do you offer any other services?
What are your limitations?
Are you licensed?
Are you insured?
Are you bonded?
Whether it is a person or an agency some of these questions are huge to ask! Not all agencies are licensed for one reason or another. But everyone (private people & agencies) can be bonded. Being bonded means the person’s or agency’s client has protection from theft or fraud. If you get a “bad apple” working for you the bond protects you and your valuables. Most agencies will have insurance as well which protects their clients in case of an injury to the staff. If a caregiver gets injured at the client’s home, the companies’ insurance will cover it. This means the client is not responsible for the injury. If you hire a personal caregiver who isn’t with an agency, be sure to ask if they are bonded and insured. You should ask for proof of their insurance and bond. We encourage everyone to ask for proof and to look it over to be sure it is up to date.
Be sure to ask about the caregivers who will be caring for your loved one. If only one person will be providing care, what happens when they are sick or if they have an emergency? If a group of people will be providing care, how many are there? Also, what happens if you or your loved one don’t mesh well with the caregiver? Let’s not forget about bad weather. Will someone be able to get to you if there is a snow storm? How will you be notified if there is a cancellation or change in scheduling? Don’t forget to make up a contract (most agencies will do this anyways) that lays out what your expectations are as well as what they can do and what they cannot do. What about driving? If you or your loved one needs to get to an appointment is the caregiver driving? Whose vehicle will be used? Anything that is important to you make sure you ask about it and don’t forget to follow up.
No matter what you do its important to follow up and check-in weekly until you are comfortable with the choices you have made. Take notes and then check in with the supervisor of your loved one’s care and go over your questions or concerns. Be sure to let them know what is going well too! Its important people know what is working well so they can be sure to continue it!
Check out next weeks blog: The Private Home Care, Inc. Difference!