Choosing the right nursing home for a loved one is no easy choice. There are simply so many factors involved, not least of which is cost, and there is always the ultimate concern that your loved one receive the proper care. Still, there are ways of determining the good from the bad. Reuters collected advice from several experts in a recent article and specifically pointed out the controversy surrounding the difference between for-profit and non-profit facilities. The article dwells on the legal battles of a former Florida state-appointed consumer advocate, Brian Lee, and the controversy there, but the central kernel is a suspicion of for-profit nursing homes. Last month the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a study indicating that for-profits had more frequent and serious deficiencies than non-profits. Indeed, it is not the first such study to come to that conclusion (see here and here, amongst many others.). Unfortunately, these decisions are seldom simple. For-profit nursing homes make up more than two-thirds of all nursing homes. So, most of us will probably be using a for-profit facility – but forewarned is fore-armed, so be sure to do your research. Experts indicate that a good starting point is the Medicare website and the ratings there, but you will also want to visit the facility to do your own fact-finding. Indeed, many say that you should visit at various times, the evening especially, and to do so unannounced to see what things are really like. Cleanliness, accessibility, and a pleasant environment are all important, but what is more important is to be sure that the residents themselves are happy and aware. It’s often not enough to simply trust a hospital discharge practitioner since they might not know best. Patience and persistence are key.
Reference: Reuters (August 23, 2011) “For-profit or not: what to consider when choosing a nursing home”