We don’t like to think about this level of retirement housing but it is always waiting in the wings. It may just mean that you need therapy and physical assistance after recovering from surgery or other medical problems before returning to your own home. It doesn’t have to be a negative experience, but it is important to make your wishes known to your family before the unexpected occurs.
A nursing care facility, or nursing home, provides care to those who need nursing care but do not need to be hospitalized. This kind of care may be needed after a major surgery, an accident or for step down care after leaving a hospital if you are too frail to go home.
An essential element to grasp regarding nursing facilities is that levels of care can vary, even within the same facility, ranging from intensive round the clock nursing, to personal care with minimal assistance and without any active nursing care.
Hospital facilities, called extended care facilities, are located within the hospital itself and provide the next highest level of nursing care after being hospitalized for an acute episode of some kind. These facilities are expensive and are not meant for long term residence so the average stay is only one or two weeks.
A non-hospital based nursing facility will also provide comprehensive nursing care and includes a multitude of other services. A Skilled Nursing facility can be for either short-term, post-hospitalization recovery, or long-term for a permanent impairment.
A Skilled Nursing facility is often a comprehensive health care center, which means as you get better you can move down to the next level (an intermediate care system).
Intermediate Care Facilities are good for those who are unable to live independently, but do not require intensive nursing care. These places provide medical attention and assistance with eating, dressing and bathing. There is always a licensed nurse on duty for emergencies.
Medicare and private insurances will pay only up to their coverage limits. Care has to be prescribed specifically by a physician and the patient has to have been recently discharged from an acute care hospital.
The only way to determine if a nursing home is a good one is to visit it yourself. Speak with staff members and with the residents and keep your eyes open. Your first impression may be your most important screening tool, but visit at different times of the day and ask questions about everything. Ask for and read state inspection reports. If you are looking at long term care and perhaps Medicaid coverage you will want to make sure the facility meets the requirements. Multiple moves are very confusing to people who already have a lot of negative things going on in their lives. Just because you are old does not mean that you don’t have the right to be happy. Finding a nice place is important but don’t forget that it is equally important to select a facility that is close to where the rest of family resides. Nursing home staff members are warm and caring individuals but it is up to the family to provide true social interaction.
Source: Moving Mom and Dad by Sarah Morse and Donna Quinn Roberts