Costs and location are the first two factors most families must evaluate when selecting long-term care for their parent. With over 200 nursing homes in Maine, many begin by narrowing down the list with a general idea of where and what fits in the budget.
Comparing Nursing Home Costs and Locations
To determine location, consider if your parent would feel more comfortable in a nursing home near his current home, community and friends? Would it be a better choice for him to be near you or other family members? Is there a nursing home that meets his special needs that would be the best location?
You also must know how much you or your parent can afford. In Maine, the average cost for a nursing home is about $275 per day. You need to plan for how this will be paid for; therefore, make a list of assets, financial resources, benefits and insurance coverage that will be used.
Review financial information with a financial planner or trusted nursing home financial representative. They can make a sound assessment of whether you are factoring in all costs and to see if you are missing any additional benefits, such as a Veterans’ stipend for those who have served.
Check the provisions of any long-term care insurance your parent has. Determine if he or she qualifies for Medicaid and find out what nursing homes accept Medicaid.
How to Rate a Nursing Home
Next, check out the ratings of long-term care facilities you are considering.
Research online for quality ratings, compliance and customer satisfaction scores. Is the facility Medicare and Medicaid certified? Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare gives a 1-5 star rating for health inspections, staffing and quality measures, along with an overall rating.
Check online for customer reviews. Ask a facility representative about the home’s ratings, customer scores and any other accolades. Ask friends and family about their experiences.
Questions to Ask When Comparing Long-Term Care
To compare apples to apples between long-term care facilities, make a list of questions to get answered. Use questions such as these from the checklist to compare nursing homes created by the AARP.
- Is the facility accepting new patients? Is there a waiting period for admissions?
- Does the facility conduct background checks on all staff?
- How many licensed nurses, RNs, LPNs are on duty at each shift?
- What is the patient to staff ratio? patient to aide ratio?
- What is the visiting policy? What is the discharge policy?
- Is transportation available, specifically for doctor’s visits?
- Are residents well groomed?
- Do staff members interact well with residents?
- Are residents participating in activities and exercise?
- Do residents have the same caregiver on a daily basis?
- Does the food look and smell good?
- Are the residents who need assistance eating or drinking receiving it?
- Are there nutritious snacks available throughout the day and evening?
- Is physical therapy available?
- Are therapy and any other services needed located on site?
- Does the staff have any specialty training, such as working with Veterans, disabilities or dementia care?
- Are there special units, programs or services for special needs, such as Alzheimer’s?
- Does the nursing home have outdoor areas for residents and help for residents who want to spend time outside?
- Are the residents allowed to make choices about daily routine (for example, when to go to bed, when to get up, when to bathe or when to eat)?
- Are the residents allowed to have personal articles and furniture in their rooms?
- Is the staff friendly, considerate and helpful?
- Does the facility have a friendly, home-like environment?
8 Tips to Visiting and Touring a Nursing Home
Visit your top 3-5 skilled nursing facilities to make your initial assessment. After you narrow the choices down to one or two, plan to make multiple visits to help you find the perfect long-term care facility for your parent.
Use these tips for your tour:
- Schedule to visit during the day so you can see the day-to-day operations.
- Eat a meal while you are there and ask for a menu from the past week or month to gain an idea of the quality and variety of food.
- Take part in or watch an activity. Ask for a schedule of events to see what kinds of activities are typically offered.
- Talk with staff. Not only the admissions director who you scheduled your tour with, ask other random staff members question that pertain to their specific jobs.
- Talk to the residents. What’s the overall morale?
- Find out who would be your primary contact. Ask how they will keep you informed and up to date on your parent’s health and demeanor?
- Make an unscheduled drop-in visit. Are there any differences you notice from a scheduled tour?
- Trust your instincts. You want to feel confident and assured you are making the right decision.
Lastly, be proactive about long-term care for your parent. Begin the conversation and have a plan in place before any decisions must be made. If you wait until a traumatic experience comes into play – an illness, fall or stroke – this can force a decision within hours. Ensure a smooth and less stressful transition for all by having a nursing home selected and a plan in place.
Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent nonprofit organization with six locations throughout Maine, each welcoming our honored veterans. We would love to answer your questions and give you a tour. Contact Maine Veterans’ Homes online or give us a call at 800-278-9494.