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How can I select the best nursing home for my aging parent?

The fact that our society as a whole is living longer and the number of seniors is growing fast means that many individuals will face the difficult choice of entering an assisted living facility (“ALF”) or a nursing home. While many elder care facilities provide quality health care to their residents and patients, nursing home neglect and abuse continues to plague the system. For this reason, elders and their loved ones need to choose an ALF or nursing home carefully, and also have a plan for financing long-term care.

Why are patients injured in nursing homes?

Patients are often neglected and injured for a number of reasons. One overarching problem is that some nursing homes care more about making profits rather than patient care. As such, these facilities look to cut costs by not retaining adequate staff or hiring workers who have not received adequate training.

When patients are neglected, not properly supervised, or heavily sedated (as they sometimes are in an effort to minimize their care needs) they are more likely to be injured in falls, which can have catastrophic consequences. If nursing homes fulfill their obligation to develop a care plan when patients enter a facility, however, these injuries can be prevented. A comprehensive care plan starts with a risk assessment to ascertain how much assistant should be provided to patients so that they can move around the facility safely.

Another common problem, particularly for patients with mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s, is “wandering and elopement” which occurs when patients who are not properly supervised wander away from a facility and suffer injuries. Lastly, patient neglect in nursing homes often leads to a variety of afflictions such as bed sores, malnutrition and dehydration.

How to Choose a Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home requires careful consideration and it is crucial to obtain as much information as possible. It goes without saying that patients and their families should visit the facility, speak with doctors and staff, and ensure that the environment is safe and clean and that patients are well cared for.

At the same time, a number of state and federal agencies rank these facilities and also maintain records of complaints and violations. At the federal level, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), rates facilities across the country. These ratings are based on a number of factors including annual health inspections, staffing levels and training, and patients’ quality of life. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration posts its inspection ratings of nursing home throughout the state on, which also contains consumer guides, helpful links, and excellent resources to assist you in finding the right facility.

The Takeaway

Make sure to take advantage of these resources to determine whether a nursing home is providing the appropriate standard of care to its patients. One common misconception is that Medicare will cover the cost of long-term care in a facility, but this is not the case. Long-term care in a nursing home or ALF is not covered by Medicare. Without proper planning, these costs can easily deplete one’s lifetime savings. By engaging the services of an experienced elder law attorney, you can resolve the issues related to choosing the best nursing facility and plan for long-term care funding as part of a comprehensive estate plan.