Beginning to consider in-patient long term care for your elderly loved one? According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there were 631 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in New York State alone as of 2011.
Finding The Right Elder Care Facility
How can you possibly choose the right one for your loved one, the one that blends their needed services, a high standard of care and the atmosphere that they’ll best respond to?
Keep our tips in mind as you begin your search:
1. How Close Is Close Enough?
Most Americans want their loved ones close, so they can visit regularly and check in on the facility’s conditions. One way to whittle down the list is by considering only the nursing home’s in your immediate vicinity.
This is easy to do. Just visit the New York State Department of Health (DOH) website, click your county on the map, scroll down and “refine your search” by zip code. We’ll discuss other ways you can use the DOH’s database later in this article.
2. Speak With Your Healthcare Provider, Friends & Family
Does your loved one have a trusted doctor? They’re probably the best place to start in seeking recommendations.
For one, they’ll be intimately acquainted with your loved one’s medical needs, and know which types of care will help the most. And it’s very likely that they will also know the area, and be familiar with the facilities around you.
Ask friends and family in the area if they have any recommendations, too.
3. Visit, Visit, Visit
Call each facility that you’re considering and set up a meeting with their general director and director of nursing. When you’re there, try to get a feel for the interactions between residents and staff, the overall conditions, like cleanliness, and whether or not the patients themselves seem content.
Also note whether or not staff members are attentive to your questions or concerns.
After your initial visit, visit again without making an appointment ahead of time. Try going on a different day, so you can meet new staff members.
4. Compare Nursing Homes Based On Complaints
This step is actually pretty easy. Head over to the DOH website that we linked above and search for one of the nursing homes you’re considering.
Under the “Quality” tab, you’ll find a statistical review of common continuing care issues and a 5-star ranking system that compares each nursing home to others in the state.
For example, Beacon Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Queens reports that 0.6% of its residents “have pressure (bed) sores that are new or worsened.” Compared to the State average of 1.2%, Beacon looks pretty good. A 4 out of 5-star rating under bed sore management places Beacon near the top.
Annual Inspection Results
You can also find examination records under the “Inspection” tab. During the year, inspectors from the DOH review a nursing home’s facilities and investigate complaints. This section is extremely well-reported. Taking a look at the records from Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx, we can see that they’ve been cited for “Standard Health Deficiencies” 31 times between 2010 and 2014, 35% more than the state average.
And below that, we can find detailed descriptions of each citation. Just click on the magnifying glass beside an entry, and you can read a lengthy discussion of the home’s deficiencies. On April 28, 2014, Riverdale was cited for failing to “ensure that necessary housekeeping and maintenance services were provided to maintain a sanitary, orderly, and comfortable interior.” We can even learn how many residents were affected by the problem. In the previous example, the unsanitary conditions impacted the lives of two patients.
Abuse & Neglect Complaints
Under the “Complaints” tab, we can find exact numbers on how many times a nursing home has violated state or federal regulations. Although this section isn’t as detailed as the others, we can assume that many of the violations involved reports of nursing home abuse or neglect.
Brooklyn’s Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was cited for 37 violations from 2010 to 2014. The DOH puts this number in perspective in terms of beds. So for every 100 beds in the facility, Hamilton Park received 24.4 citations. That sounds really high, the Statewide average is actually 35.9.
Notably, the DOH also tells us how many complaints were reported by the nursing home itself, versus patients and their loved ones. Hamilton Park’s staff only reported 24% of all their violations. This could go some way in indicating that they lack the transparency and thorough oversight we would expect from people who have taken our loved ones under their care.
How Do I Use This Information?
Every nursing home in New York State is registered in the Department of Health’s database, and all the available info can be overwhelming. We suggest narrowing your list first and then investigating their record of complaints and violations.