If you are ever faced with, putting a parent or other loved one in a nursing home you usually ask all the questions you can think of off the top of your head. What type of questions should you ask, and how do you know if you are being told the truth, and not the nursing home's version of the truth?
Ask about staff to resident ratio in the nursing home, and you will generally be told it is higher then it really is. For a more honest look at the figures, when you walk in a nursing home across the nation you will see a piece of paper with those staff ratios and it is more honest then what you will be told by the administrator.
This piece of paper will list only nursing staff, you will see RN, those are the registered nurse's and on the day shift there will be plenty of them in a nursing home. In the evening there maybe only one RN, but most units or floors will have at least two LPN's (licensed practical nurses). The CNA column is the amount of certified nurse's aides on staff per shift.
For a 200-bed nursing home during a day shift, you may see six RN's, up to 12 LPN's and twenty-five CNA's. This looks great on paper and if an aide calls in sick; chances are that aide is not replaced. Sometimes when an LPN calls in sick it is not listed on the paper, nor are they replaced. For the day shift, you have generally 18 licensed staff members and 25 certified staff members to take care of 200 residents. That is not bad on paper, and if all show up as scheduled, it works fine.
It is not a reality usually that everyone shows up which means everyone is working harder then usual. The best bet to get a real glimpse is to just open your eyes and walk on a unit with the administrator on a tour of a nursing home, and keep your eyes open. Do a rough head count of the staff members on a unit, see if they are over worked.
Day shift is usually staffed better then the other shifts and be very apprehensive of a 200-bed nursing home, which has only less then seven aides scheduled on the night shift. Those seven aides will be responsible for turning residents, who need to be turned every four hours, and walk any residents who are able to the bathroom and assist them there.
What planned activities do the nursing home have for residents? If there is an activity going on during your tour of the nursing home, look and see how the staff is interacting with the residents. Do the residents look happy; do the staff members look happy? A good nursing home will have plenty of activities that residents of all abilities can participate in.
Usually on every unit of floor of the nursing home, you will see a calendar of events, planned activities for the month for the residents. Do the activities look like something your parent or loved one would enjoy?
Ask questions such as can you come in and volunteer at these activities if you choose this nursing home for your parent. A good nursing home always needs plenty of volunteers to help occasionally and this is a great way to see what goes on at a nursing home from the inside.
How will the therapists at the nursing home help your parent? Visit the physical therapy room, and talk with the therapist if possible. Therapists are not only there for the residents who need rehabilitation, they are there to help the residents maintain what physical skills they have currently. The therapists in a nursing home also work with the staff members on correct posture, so that the staff knows how to transfer a resident safely who may not cooperate all the time from a wheelchair to a regular chair.
In a nursing home, your loved one will have the best care possible if you ask the right questions and make mental notes on staffing issues. Get to know the staff, be a frequent visitor, and get in to helping out as much as you can.