How to Choose: Skilled Nursing Home vs At-Home Recovery for My Parent

Author: Maine Veterans' Homes
Posted: October 12, 2020
Category: Short Term Skilled Nursing Care

After a lengthy illness or surgery, your parent will need some level of recovery care and/or rehabilitation. For many, the debate begins on whether recovery should occur in a nursing home or at home.

The decision is difficult and varies from situation to situation based on the nursing care and rehabilitation needed, such as a hip replacement vs. a broken arm or pneumonia vs. the stomach flu. The overall health of your parent before hospitalization is also a factor. A man with dementia will have different recovery needs than a man with a heart condition.

The most important factor in determining where your parent will recuperate is finding the right place and kind of care for their individual needs. The right post-acute care can be the difference between a successful, speedy recovery or an unfortunate trip back to the hospital.

Ensure your parent has a smooth transition from hospital to recovery care by being prepared ahead of their hospital stay, if possible. Begin evaluating skilled nursing care vs. at-home care as soon as possible. Speak with their doctor about the option of post-acute rehab and get his recommendations.

Nursing Home vs. At-Home Care for My Parent

To help you decide on whether a skilled nursing facility or at-home care is the best place for your parent’s recovery, know what to expect after they leave the hospital. Ask the hospital discharge planners, doctor, or your primary care physician these questions:

  • What therapies will be required?
  • Will they need help with dressing or bathing?
  • What medical equipment will be needed, such as a walker or oxygen tank, and what kind of support is provided for equipment usage?
  • Will someone need to be with them 24 hours a day?
  • What is the average length of recovery time?
  • What problems, symptoms, and side effects should we watch for?
  • What should we do about any potential side effects or problems?
  • What does each medicine do, and why is it needed?
  • What are the medication dosages, conflicts, and side effects


15 Questions to Help You Find the Perfect Nursing Home for Post-Acute Recovery

After determining costs and insurance coverage, the best way to narrow down your skilled nursing options is to speak with an official from the Home. Talk to the staff, review a potential plan for your parent’s recovery, and evaluate the nursing home for care and recovery using these questions:

  1. What are your staffing levels? Do you provide 24-hour RN coverage?
  2. Can your nursing staff handle advanced care needs, such as wound therapy?
  3. Will my parent have an individualized plan of care, and how will I be involved?
  4. Who and how will they communicate with my family on my parent’s care?
  5. What kind of activities and social opportunities will my parent be able to take part in?
  6. How is the food? Can I see a menu or sample a meal?
  7. How often will therapy be provided? Is it every day or just five days per week? When will treatment start?
  8. Does the therapy team have advanced techniques? What is the quality of the therapy center?
  9. Will the therapists help educate my family on therapy techniques before my parent’s discharge?
  10. How do you assist with the transition back home?

15 Considerations Before Choosing At-Home Care

Choosing to care for your parent after an illness or surgery is a decision that takes careful consideration to ensure the move is in the best interest of your parent, you, and your family. An at-home recovery can provide many positives, but realize it may not be right for everyone.

Ask yourself these questions to help weigh whether it’s the right move for you.

  1. Do you have the skillset to provide the required care, from changing bandages to bathing? Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. If you are not comfortable helping your father go to the bathroom, maybe you can assist with insurance and paperwork.
  2. Do you have the time to be a caregiver? Consider your schedule, both at work and at home.
  3. Know your limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s OK to say, “I have too much going on in my life right now.” The quality of care you provide will be affected by how you are feeling and any other stressors you may be dealing with.
  4. Are you feeling guilty for considering skilled nursing care? Some children choose at-home care out of guilt. You may feel guilty for not being able to provide care when your parent nurtured you for so many years. Guilt is the wrong reason to choose at-home care. The right decision is based on how and where your parent can get the best care to achieve optimal recovery.
  5. What obligations do you have to your own family? Will those obligations be put on hold?
  6. How will this affect the entire family? Have you asked your spouse and children how they feel about at-home care for your parent?
  7. How will this affect your household financially? When you add up all the costs, such as purchasing equipment for your home and cutting hours at your job, you may find at-home care is more expensive than a rehab center.
  8. Consider the relationship you have with your parent. Caring for someone who is not feeling well or in recovery can add stress to any relationship. Is your relationship in a state to handle this?
  9. Can your home or your parent’s home safely meet your parent’s needs? Are there stairs? Are bathrooms wide enough for a walker or wheelchair? Can they easily get out of bed? Will they have privacy, yet be able to call for assistance easily?
  10. Do you have a plan in place if an emergency occurs?
  11. How will you provide any needed therapy?
  12. Can you transport your parent to therapy and doctor’s appointments?
  13. How will you provide opportunities for socialization and activities that stimulate the mind and aid in recovery?
  14. If your parent needs emotional or mental health support during recovery, can you handle this, or do you have resources? Do you know how to handle traumatic flashbacks or bursts of anger that could be possible due to medications or discomfort during recovery?
  15. Will you have time to care for yourself? Caregivers are more prone to illness due to stress and exhaustion. How will you give yourself a break? Who will cover for you when you need to replenish your body and mind?

About Maine Veterans' Homes

Whether you or your loved one is looking for rehabilitative or therapy serviceslong term caredementia care or short term skilled nursing care, our team of healthcare professionals will work together with you to develop a customized plan based on your needs and wants. To learn more, download our Eligibility Guide >>>

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