At some point, you may find it’s no longer safe or healthy for you or an elderly loved one to continue living at home. In this situation, a skilled nursing facility may be an optimal choice, particularly if the person in need of assistance has a medical condition that requires daily care or observation. Licensed Master Social Worker James Weatherstone, who has a decades-long career in the medical field, including several years as the director of a skilled nursing facility, offers four tips for choosing the right facility for your family’s needs.
4 Steps for Choosing a Skilled Nursing Facility
Make a List of Priorities
Before you ask for recommendations or search for facilities in your area, make a list of priorities. For instance, you may want a facility close to friends and family to make visiting easier. Alternatively, you may want a faith-based facility. You or your loved one’s medical needs will also factor in. For instance, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to choose a facility with specialized dementia care. If you require hospice care, make sure the facility you choose offers this.
Get Recommendations & Reviews
Ask friends, family members, and your medical care providers for recommendations, James Weatherstone advises. The best way to get an authentic look at what a facility is like on the inside is by speaking with those who have first-hand experience. You can also cross-check personal referrals with online reviews to get a broader sense of a facility’s reputation.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospects, schedule times to tour each facility. When you visit, ask if the facility has Medicare and Medicaid certification. Also, check for handicap accessibility, including ramps, guard rails, and grab bars, as well as emergency call buttons. Observe the interactions between staff and residents and see if residents appear happy and well-cared-for, James Weatherstone suggests. Patients should have dietician-approved meals and around-the-clock medical care, as well as access to social and stimulative activities like game and movie nights, book clubs, or exercise classes.
Many people are reluctant to move to a skilled nursing facility because they fear losing independence and a sense of personal identity, says James Weatherstone. This is a valid concern and some skilled nursing facilities do a better job than others at preserving and respecting patients’ independence and autonomy as much as the patients’ condition allows. While many people in need of skilled nursing care cannot do all of the things they used to, a good nursing facility should encourage residents to make their own decisions as long as they are mentally able. This includes, for example, deciding what to have for dinner, or what classes and activities to participate in, as well as their bed and wake up times. Older adults who maintain some independence tend to be happier and healthier, James Weatherstone said.
More on James Weatherstone
Based in Hudson Valley, New York, James Weatherstone has held several social work-related posts over the years, including Director of Social Services at Campbell Hall Rehabilitation Center Inc., also known as Campbell Hall Senior Center, a facility with over 100 residences. Prior to this, he was also a paid social work intern with the Veterans Administration. In his years in the field, James Weatherstone was highly-regarded by coworkers, administrators, and patients. His compassion and expertise, as well as his strong work ethic, were recognized throughout the Hudson Valley mental health community.
Today, although James Weatherstone has moved on from his post at Campbell Hall Rehabilitation Center, he continues to advocate for mental health awareness and better social services for patients and their families.
To learn more about James Weatherstone, his credentials, and career, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-weatherstone-86189b98/.