Checking carefully into any skilled nursing facility you're considering for your care or that of a loved one is very important to ensuring that you choose one that will provide quality care and services. Much of that checking involves looking into Medicare ratings, health and safety reports and other factors that can be researched online or over the phone. However, as important as that sort of research is, visiting facilities in person with a critical eye is a method that simply cannot be beat for sizing up their quality of care.
The key to making an accurate appraisal of a facility lies in knowing what to look for as you tour their operation. Important details to take notice of as you look around a facility include the appearance and demeanor of its residents/patients. Are they clean, well groomed and appropriately dressed? Do they seem happy? Are they active and sociable? Are their interactions with staff warm and friendly? If so, these are indications that their care needs are being met effectively and that they feel valued by and comfortable with facility staff.
Other factors to examine with a critical eye are the cleanliness, comfort and safety of the facility itself. Are there any unpleasant odors? Does it smell heavily of air fresheners? Are individual rooms, dining rooms and other common areas clean, comfortable and accessible for clients with wheelchairs or walkers? Are hallways equipped with non-slip flooring and hand rails for safety? Are bathrooms and patient rooms equipped with emergency call buttons and/or pull cords? Are fire extinguishers properly maintained and easily accessible? Are there sprinklers and smoke detectors? Are exits clearly marked?
Other details to take note of are whether meals are healthy, balanced, well-prepared and appetizing, and whether residents who need help eating are getting the assistance and attention they require. Also, you'll want to see or ask if there are designated activities areas for long term residents, and whether there is an activities calendar posted. If so, are the activities meaningful and varied to accommodate differing interests? Are residents actively encouraged to participate in activities? Are there both outdoor and indoor activities planned? These details are important to evaluating whether or not a skilled nursing facility invests in ensuring that residents social and emotional needs are met along with their physical care needs – which is, of course, important to overall quality of life.
Clearly, these are an awful lot of details to remember during your skilled nursing facility tours. Bringing along a list of them, along with any questions you have for facility administration and/or nursing staff can help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks as you make your in-person assessment of each facility.