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Thursday, September 12, 2024

The Skilled Nursing Facility Checklist

When the time comes to start considering moving a loved one or a family member into a skilled nursing facility, many questions and concerns come to mind. Is my loved one going to be well taken care of? Will they be happy? Are they still going to socialize with people their age?

The list of questions goes on and on, but the most important ones are often the most overlooked. While some of the inquiries can be answered by the staff, other questions need to be answered by simply observing what happens at the community on a daily basis.

Here is a list of some important questions to ask and how to go about getting the answers:

Who is the medical director, director of nursing, and administrator and what are their credentials?

One of the most important questions you can ask is the credentials of the people that will be caring for your loved one. After asking the facility for the names of these staff members, simply do some research on your own to find out what school they attended, what awards they were given, and how long they have been working at that or another senior living facility. Several of these positions qualify for different awards and recognition. For instance, the medical director can qualify for the American Medical Directors Association’s Medical Director of the Year. This award is given to someone that improves the care of their patients and provides leadership to their staff. These types of credentials will let you know who is running the facility and if they are constantly striving to make changes and improvements to the facility, staff, and well-being of their residents. Gaining insight into the quality of care your family member is being given on a daily basis will help you sleep easy at night knowing they are in capable and caring hands.

What is the ratio of nurses to patients?

As a caregiver or a family member, you want your loved one to receive the attention and care they deserve. The ability to provide quality care increases when CNAs or registered nurses are able to work with a manageable number of residents. If the facility only has 3 CNAs for every 50 patients, it may be more difficult to provide consistent care and attention for every resident. Additionally, do the same CNAs or registered nurses work with the same residents for the majority of the week? It is important for the resident to have the opportunity to establish a relationship with their caregivers and ensures that the staff is aware of each resident’s unique health issues and concerns. Furthermore, it may be important to determine if the CNAs participate in care planning meetings. Communication between management and the direct care staff is vital to well rounded care. Simply asking the facilities director these questions will give you valuable insight into how much individual care is given to each resident.

Do the residents have control of their menu choices?

While this may seem like a luxury to certain people, having the ability to choose what you eat can be an important part of life in a skilled nursing home. If the facility is truly devoted to patient centered care, there should be some flexibility with food options to allow for personal preferences. At the very least, does the weekly menu include several different options depending upon the tastes and allergies of all of the residents? It is also important to ask if snacks are available outside of regularly scheduled meal times. Take some time to look around the lunch room during meal time when you are visiting the facility. Make sure the staff is present and everything looks clean, fresh and healthy. To get answers about the meal plan, ask the facility director about the options available.

What types of activities are available?

When touring the facility, ask the director for a calendar of activities available to the residents. It’s important to see that the facility includes not only quality medical attention, but opportunities to be engaged and stimulated through group activities. These may include exercise classes, religious services, holiday celebrations, bingo or scrabble nights, knitting classes, walking clubs, and baking classes. It also never hurts to ask if they take suggestions about activities. Many facilities will try out new activities suggested by one member to see if they can get enough people involved to make it a regular activity. Take some time to watch how the staff coordinates and conducts different types of activities. Do the residents seem to be enjoying themselves? Is there enough staff to ensure each participant is as involved as possible? Some senior living facilities also offer a few offsite activities a month, giving residents the opportunity to visit museums, zoos, or other fun destinations.

What kind of therapy is available?

If your loved one is in need of or could potentially need therapy, it is important to ask if the facility offers therapy onsite and how many hours are available per week. In addition, it is important to ask questions concerning who will be administering the physical therapy. Will this person be a CNA, a licensed physical therapist, or a rehab aide? Inquire about qualifications and past experience to see if it will match the needs and degree of care required by your loved one.

These considerations are often overlooked when considering a skilled nursing facility, but are some of the most important questions to ask to make sure your loved one is given proper care and attention. Taking an active role in choosing a facility for your family member will give you peace of mind during what can be a stressful time for any family.

Michelle Hartley
Marketing & Communications

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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