How to choose the right nursing home - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

How to choose the right nursing home

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WSIL -- The shocking deaths of eight people at a Florida nursing home this week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, raises questions about the safety of nursing homes across the country.

How do you make sure your loved one doesn't end up in a nursing home that could put them in danger?

Carol Aronson, the director of the social service division at Shawnee Health Service, said the first thing is to look for resources in your area.

In Illinois, hospitals social workers or care managers can provide a list of nursing homes in the community and the services they provide.

Aronson said talk with doctors, nurses, co-workers, clergy and friends to get their opinions of nursing homes in the area.

"One of the important things to do is to really what type of care you're looking for," said Aronson. 

Aronson says call and visit the nursing home. She advises visiting in the evening. Experts say visiting the home in the evening or weekends is crucial to get a sense of how it operates when conditions are not ideal.

Aronson says ask lots of questions and pay attention to the interaction between the staff and residents.

She said the culture of a nursing home should focus on what's best for the residents, not the facility. 

"Really think through what their needs are going to be so you can ask specific questions about how that facility would meet those needs," said Aronson. "Is it important for them to sleep in in the morning til 10? What time do they normally have breakfast? When do they bathe? When do they want to have visitors?"

Aronson says be sure to keep your loved one's wants and needs in mind, every step of the way. 

"The most important thing is that you respect their wishes and their values and you help them determine and involve them as much as possible," said Aronson.

Nursing home residents should also know they have rights, which are protected by state and federal laws.

The Illinois Department on Aging's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provides representatives who advocate on behalf of residents in nursing home facilities, making sure they have a voice in decisions that affect their care.

The ombudsman for southern Illinois can be reached by contacting the Shawnee Alliance for Seniors/Shawnee Health Service at 618-985-8322 or toll free 1-800-642-7773.

Additional Resources:

Illinois Department of Public Health (inspections, tips, etc)

Kentucky Nursing Homes (inspections, links to state and federal resources):

Missouri Nursing Homes (inspections, complaints, tips, etc.)

Nursing Home Inspect (ProPublica site, looks for trends and patterns, shows fines)

Illinois Pioneer Coalition (free book on choosing a nurse home)

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