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A sudden fall or other health crisis may unexpectedly put you in the position of searching for skilled nursing care for a loved one.  In a moment of crisis, choosing a skilled nursing facility can become an emotionally-charged process.  Before a sudden health issue forces a hurried move to a senior care facility, there is planning that can be done to help ease the transition and reduce stress.  Whether you are looking for an older adult relative or wanting to plan for your own future, below are tips for choosing the perfect fit for skilled care.

Set Up a Tour

The easiest and quickest way to get an overall feel of a senior care community is to go there yourself.  Tour the facility, meet the staff, and ask questions face-to-face.  Many communities will allow you to observe resident activities and even eat in the dining rooms.  The more personal experience you can garner within a community, the easier it will be to picture your loved one or yourself making that community home.

Ask Questions

In order to gain a better understanding of a specific community, don’t hesitate to ask the staff questions.  Many staff members acknowledge how overwhelming choosing a skilled care facility can be and want to help provide the information you need to make your decision.  Some questions to ask are:

What type of care is offered and at what levels?  Suppose your loved one had a recent injury and needs therapy.  Is skilled therapy available on site?  Or perhaps memory care is needed along with skilled nursing care.  Is memory care offered at the level your relative or friend requires?  Look for a facility that takes an individualized approach to care and offers the right care level that is needed.

What is the staff/resident ratio?  Learning how many residents are under the care of each nurse and CNA will help give you an idea of how much time and attention the care team will be able to give your loved one.

How often does a doctor visit the residents?  If someone is coming to a skilled care facility directly from the hospital, he/she may be used to seeing a doctor daily.  Usually, doctors visit skilled care facilities less frequently and learning the regularity of their visits can help you manage any expectations.

What is the financial responsibility of the resident?  If your loved one uses Medicare or Medicaid, ask if they are accepted.  If someone’s resources become depleted while in care, what is the facility’s policy?  Will the resident need to be re-located?

What amenities are there?  Asking this question can give the facility staff the opportunity to share what makes their community stand out.  Some communities offer a wide array of amenities, such as outdoor space, physical exercise programs, housekeeping and laundry services, activities, transportation, and nutritious meals.  If you are seeking a faith-based organization, look for a community that also offers religious services and/or chaplain visits.

Just as every senior is unique, every senior living community has its own distinctive qualities.  Touring the campus, visiting with staff and residents, and asking questions will help guide you in choosing the best fit for you or your loved one.

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