|Monday, 18 February 2008 10:16 | Print page:|
Despite the "Good Choice Indicators" (GCI) that are discussed in the Nursing Home Checklist, consumers simply don’t have any "magic keys" with which to unlock the door of a "best" facility. However, if your situation requires that you find a nursing home fast and if you are to make the best choice in Nursing Homes available, the present Nursing Home market demands your commitment to evaluate Nursing Homes properly.
Always keep one thing in mind: As good as any Nursing Home is today, new management and new staff can quickly change things tomorrow. As your relative's caregiver, you must regularly evaluate the daily services of any Nursing Home you choose.
Proper evaluations are based on facts found from credible sources - and purposely disregards the opinions of industry professionals who will profit from decisions you make. Families in search of nursing home care are often in crisis, and thus have a tendency to rely on the opinions of doctors or nursing home staff for guidance. Our loved one's medical conditions pressure us to locate a Nursing Home - any Nursing Home - whilst we struggle to maintain our usual responsibilities. Then, as we search for Nursing Homes, we quickly realise we don’t know the first thing about them. Therefore, in an effort to make everything work, you will have a tendency to rely on others to make the decision for you. However pressing the situation, it is better to do some research in order to be able to make a more informed decision.
A recent government Inquiry into Aged Care, instigated responses from Aged Care Groups and individuals alike –- most of them describing Australia's aged care system at best, inadequate. At no time should a well run facility have pervasive odors, obvious dirt, items out of repair, or pest or pestilence problems.
Nursing homes are in the 'business' of providing good nursing care. If they are not doing that, they are not performing the service for which they have been contracted. This is known as breach of contract. It is also highly unprofessional.
True professionals get the job done, with integrity -- and no excuses. This does not mean that the occasional odor or dirty area is a cause for alarm. However, if you walk into a beautifully decorated reception area, but the care is less than optimal - you do not want your relative in that facility.
Don't be persuaded by providers who purport to be charity-driven, or religious facilities that promote their "vision" as "caring, compassionate, advocate for the disadvantaged", etc. We are not saying that these facilities are telling "untruths" - rather, we urge you to do your own research... (example: Nursing home shut down over health fear)
Our best advice to you: never judge a book (rather, in this case, a nursing facility) by its cover... Use common sense - if you wouldn’t live there, neither would anyone else with good judgment. To completely evaluate a Nursing Home, take the tour, but return later, and often, at various times of the day and evening and walk the halls. Observe, listen, smell - chat with residents as if they were friends - they will provide you with a wealth of information.
Choose Homes first for their satisfaction of the following Good Choice Indicator's, then by geographical location - if that’s an option. Now, despite reviewing the information in this article, you are still faced with the problem of determining a Home's bedspace availability. For this reason, you may wish to enlarge your first list of Homes, realising that many will be eliminated because beds aren't available.
3 Step Guide
It is imperative that you take your nursing home search seriously and resolve to spend the necessary time to insure the health, safety and well being of your loved one. As your relative’s caregiver, they are relying on you to make the best Nursing Home decision -- for them.
A word of caution before you begin. If your relative has personal resources in their name that you are willing to liquidate as payment for nursing home care, private payment residents are always highly desired by homes because they pay the going rate - therefore, beds are readily available (also known within the industry as "cherry picking"). However, if you are concerned about asset liquidation, you must familiarise yourself with your relative’s rights. A solicitor who has experience in aged care issues can be invaluable. You will need guidance in protecting and preserving your relative's assets.
Tips: what you may not know
Finding a suitable home can be a frustrating, lengthy, and depressing experience. You may, or may not, experience this. There just are not enough Nursing Home beds.
The percentage of beds available for male residents, is much lower than female residents (therefore, making it much harder to locate a suitable Nursing Home bed/accommodation).
You can't just "drop in" when it's convenient for you - you will need to make an appointment with the Nursing Home representative, who will then give you a formal "tour" of the facility (often with other people like yourself - desperate to locate suitable accommodation for their loved ones). Some of the Nursing Homes may require up to 2-3 weeks ahead to book a time with you (an indication of how busy the Nursing Home facilities are with their "tours", this could also be an indication of how long their waiting lists will be as well)
Prepare yourself for Nursing Home visits -- it can be a depressing and miserable journey to locate a "suitable" bed. You may be shown through Nursing Homes that stink of urine, overlaid with the cloying scent of lavender or antiseptic. You may be shown dank cubicles or crowded rooms that look unfit to home your loved one, or be taken down corridors where screaming can be heard in the distance. Or perhaps the residents are unnervingly quiet, we hope not induced into a drug-induced gaze.
"Waiting Lists" are an inaccurate indication
Remember, there will be many other people in the queue before you, and the selection criteria is biased - trying to work out the selection criteria (as beds are scarce as hens teeth, nursing homes can basically "pick and choose" the resident of choice.
For example, you might find it easier to locate a Nursing Home bed if you are: classified as high level care (more money from government); female (more bed places); light build (easy to move); reasonably mobile (no effort required for lifting, etc.), and you have money. Enough to pay the aged care facility a healthy bond.
Transferring from a Hospital Setting
If your relative is in a hospital setting, and has been assessed as requiring high-level nursing care, make no mistake - the hospital will apply unrealistic pressure on the relatives to expedite your loved one out of hospital. The social worker may appear to be helpful but their role is to clear the hospital bed as soon as possible. Period.