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9 Unusual Truths About Nursing Homes

Dec 21, 2007
Let me give you a dose of reality when it comes to nursing homes. You may be shocked by whats revealed here. Few people really understand much about nursing homes. You'll have a much better understanding about how nursing homes work and the experience to expect after your loved one is admitted.

Truth #1: Some nursing homes provide better care than others.

Nursing homes, like people, have their own strengths, weaknesses and skill levels. While each nursing home offers the same basic services like nursing care, food service, activities, laundry and round the clock care some facilities will emphasize one type of care over another.

For example, some facilities cater to Alzheimer patients. Some offer on-site dialysis services. Others focus on rehabilitating stoke victims. If your loved one has special needs, find a facility that meets those needs. You get the most effective care that way.

Truth #2: Some people get better in a nursing home. Some can't .

If your mom is in the nursing home rehabilitating from a broken hip, you can realistically expect her to return home once the hip mends. But if she also has Alzheimer's disease, that same expectation may be unreal.

Alzheimer's sufferers have a difficult time understanding a therapist's instructions. If they can't duplicate instructions they can't participate in their rehab.

If they can't participate in rehab, the hip will not heal enough for her to regain its use. If she unable to regain her ability to walk, it's not because a shortcoming of the nursing home.

Truth #3: Mistakes happen.
Nursing homes are like every other business. Mistakes will happen. Don't expect perfection. You'll be disappointed. Even in the best-run nursing homes, errors are a fact of life.

Some will be minor like clothing getting lost or an aide being rude. Some can be serious like medication errors or inadequate hydration.

The key is how management responds. Nursing home
management wants to do a good job. The good ones
take full responsibility for the errors and take steps immediately to correct it so it doesn't happen again.

Management wants nursing home care to go smoothly. When it does you are happier with the care, the home is more profitable and the facility stays full.

Truth #4: Nursing homes are expensive.
The average cost of nursing home care across the USA is $55,000 per year. Some areas cost more, some less. Like any other service business, nursing homes expect to get paid.

The average nursing home stay is 29 months. Few families have an extra $132,917 hanging around (the average cost of care over 29 months. Paying nursing home costs produces a major stress for spouses both spouses and their adult children.

Truth #5:Medicare pays very little toward nursing home care.

The maximum Medicare will pay is for 100 days, but that's not guaranteed. Without long term care insurance in place, most families start out liquidating their savings, spending it down on
nursing home costs until they qualify for
Medicaid.

Medicaid is the only public program that pays nursing home costs. To qualify you must meet tight income and asset limits.

Truth #6: Ugly nursing homes can give great care.
Don't judge the quality of care by the nursing home's decor . We all have a tendency to prejudge a company's quality of service by how new the
place looks.

While it's nice to have pretty surroundings, it's not what counts. What matter are the people inside. Find out how conscientious and dedicated the people are inside the facility and you'll know the care quality you can expect.

Truth #7: People working in a nursing home want to do a good job.

Your attitude toward them directly impacts the quality of care. It also regulates your stress and anxiety level. People naturally respond better to those who treat them with respect and kindness. Think negatively towards the staff of the nursing home you select and you'll get negative results.

Truth #8: To get better care, shift your thinking.

One way to improve the overall nursing home experience is to make a slight shift in how you view your role there. Look at yourself as the individual responsible for selecting and managing a team to provides the care for your loved one.

It's your job to find, interview and hire the best staff to handle the job. By viewing yourself as an involved and caring manager of the care team, you'll feel more at cause over the activities of the staff.

In return they will be more receptive to you. You'll receive daily reports on your loved one's condition and how they have fared through out the day. Because the staff knows you care, they will gladly give you a heads up on health and social issues they see.

You'll be able to head off problems before they become serious. More importantly, you'll be more satisfied with the level of care provided.

Truth #9: To get the best care, visit frequently.
The quality of care rises directly with the amount of family involvement. The more family and friends visit a nursing home and the more involved you are with nursing home activities the better you'll understand how the nursing home functions.

The better you understand how a nursing home works, the easier it is for you to ensure your loved one gets quality care.
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