FlowersHow To Find A Good Nursing Home
By KL Winston Ph.D

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"Nursing homes" include a variety of possible living arrangements. Traditionally, nursing homes cared only for those who could no longer care for themselves and whose families could no longer provide adequate care.

Today, the trend is toward "life care" or "stepped care" facilities. These complexes typically offer three levels of care: independent apartments for people who can still take good care for themselves; assisted living facilities for those who need help with meals, laundry, medications, etc.; and a nursing home for those who need greater supervision and care. Once people live in the facility, they move to increasing levels of care as they need to.

To find out what types of nursing facilities are available in your area, talk to friends, social workers, clergy, and local senior citizens organizations. Once you meet people in your area who are knowledgeable about and experienced with local nursing homes, a helpful information network will open up to you.

If the person is an armed forces veteran, contact the Veterans Administration. A VA hospital might be available to your loved one.

Organizations and their publications may also help:

The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. The organization that provides information about--and lobbies for--the nation's nonprofit nursing homes. 901 E St., N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004-2037; (202) 783-2242;

The American Health Care Association. A similar organization whose members include both for-profit and nonprofit nursing homes. 1201- L St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 842-4444; no Web site open to the public.

The National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. A coalition of organizations united around a commitment to improve nursing home care. 1424 - 16th St. N.W., Suite 202, Washington, D.C. 20036-2211; (202) 332-2275;.

Depending on the type of agency they work for, social workers and other community experts may not be able to recommend one nursing home over another. In addition, they personally might not recommend every home on the lists of homes their agencies provide.

If professionals are free to state their opinions, listen to them, ask your questions, and then make up your own mind. If they cannot speak freely, find people who can, and then make up your own mind.

Some physicians and social service agencies own or invest in nursing homes. Ask the people you consult if they have any financial ties to specific homes. Such ties can bias recommendations. Talk to as many people as you can.

Once you have a list of possible homes, call and ask some general questions over the phone:

Are there openings?

Is there a waiting list?

Can you get a brochure or information packet by mail?

What does the facility cost?

What types of financial arrangements do they accept?

Telephone interviewing and what you learn by mail may winnow your list somewhat.

The next step is to evaluate potential homes yourself.

(c) copyright 1995


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