Nursing Home Help

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What to Look For

Research on nursing homes conducted by the MU MDS and Quality Research Team identified Seven Key Aspects of Quality Care: Home, Care, Family Involvement, Environment, Communication, Staff, and Central Focus.

Home: A nursing home should feel like a home, not like an institution or hospital. It should have the look and feel of an active place where people live and where they receive the care they need. It should be buzzing with life, hope, activity, and caring individuals. Each room should have plants and personal items so the resident can regard the room as his or her own. Local community groups should visit residents.

Care: A high–quality nursing home is one where the staff stays on top of the fundamentals of care, including:

  • help with bathing, eating, and using the restroom
  • keeping residents’ hair, teeth, and clothes clean
  • offering a variety of good food in sociable settings
  • helping people stay involved socially
  • arranging for medical care when needed
  • minimizing injury and property loss

Family Involvement: Good nursing homes encourage families to get involved with their loved ones’ care. And family members say that spending time at the nursing home ensures that residents are fed, exercised, and medicated properly and in a timely fashion.

Environment: A nursing home should feel like a pleasant place to live. It should be clean and odor-free, spacious, and not too noisy. The grounds should be inviting and accessible. The building should be well lit with lots of windows so that residents can see outdoors. Beds should be low enough to minimize falls; tables are the right height for eating comfortably; and chairs are sturdy with arms to help people stand up easily and safely. Floors should be nonslip and without glare. In general, the environment should be safe and free from obvious hazards.

Communication: Communication is crucial. It’s important that staff members hear (perhaps more than once) each resident’s needs, likes, dislikes, and habits. There should be positive verbal and nonverbal communication between staff and residents. Good staff members will talk with residents and listen to what they have to say.

Staff: Staff are the most important sign of quality care. Good staff are responsive and compassionate, clean and well groomed, with the same staff caring for the same residents each day. Make sure that a Registered Nurse is on duty at all times. The presence of an RN is essential for quality care; they make the medical assessments that are the basis for the care residents receive.

Central Focus: Central focus means the facility has set the right priorities. The facilities focus on the residents, their families, and the community and they participate in local events and solicit community support.

The New Nursing Homes: A Twenty-Minute Way to Find Great Long-Term Care is a handbook for individuals and families searching for quality long-term care. The guide provides additional information on the search for quality long-term care. There are also a number of websites with information on aging and finding quality long term care.


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Updated Monday, October 21, 2013