Deciding to place your loved one in a skilled nursing facility is never an easy one. There are some steps you should take to ensure their safety, and well-being. Above all else, the care of your loved one is imperative.
1. Make Sure They Have an Updated Will
Whether your loved one is entering a facility because they are no longer able to care for themselves at home, or they have suffered an accident which makes it impossible for you to care for them, you should carefully review their current will.
In some cases, your loved one may have a living will. If this is the case, you will want to review this with them and determine if their wishes have changed. While it is possible to modify a will after admission to a skilled nursing facility, it is generally preferable to make those changes before entering a nursing home.
2. Make Sure They Have a Current Power of Attorney
Despite being in a skilled nursing facility, your loved one's finances must be handled by someone they trust. A financial power of attorney should be drawn up to ensure their assets are protected and their bills outside the nursing home may be paid for from their bank accounts. These documents must be provided to their bank and any brokerage which holds financial assets.
Powers of attorney allow you to continue managing your loved one's financial affairs on their behalf. This is also helpful since there are occasions when a nursing home resident may fall victim to financial abuse, and this will help you ensure their financial safety.
3. Gather All Pertinent Documentation Prior to Final Selection of Home
There are numerous documents which must be filled out and provided prior to admission to a nursing home. Your loved ones medical records, proof that admission is recommended by their physician, orders for medication from their primary care doctor, and a current medical history and physical may be required. Louisiana also requires preadmission screening forms to be filled out prior to admission to a nursing home.
4. Evaluate Facility Staffing and COVID-19
Nursing homes were hard hit during the COVID-19 breakout. Fortunately, there is a record of which nursing homes fared best. When researching potential homes for your loved one, find out what their staffing levels are, and how they responded to the pandemic.
5. Research the Facilities History of Complaints and Violations
Understanding the history of violations in a nursing home is crucial when considering various facilities. Make sure you fully research their history by comparing how each facility in Louisiana fares per the Nursing Home Compare Guide provided by the federal government. This comparison tool can also provide you with important information pertaining to staffing levels, health inspections, and more.
6. Quality of Life: Which Amenities are Important?
Quality of life is important, regardless of where your loved one is living. Typically, nursing homes have a robust activities staff which offers a range of activities including games, music, and other activities. Some facilities also have knitting or reading groups, and may offer other activities which your loved one may opt to participate in.
Before deciding on a final location, determine whether the nursing home has an activities director who ensures patients in the facility stay occupied and during the day. This can be very important to the overall mental health of your loved one and allows them time to interact with others in the facility.
7. Explore Visitor Limitations Due to the Current 2020 Pandemic
Nursing facilities have placed various limits on visits to the facility by patient's families during the pandemic. These restrictions were placed on both family and outside health care providers in an effort to stem the flow of people in and out of the facility to prevent the spread of COVID19. Since we are still in the grip of the pandemic, understanding what limits you may face will be important. Fortunately, you may be able to communicate regularly with your loved one if you have the technology available to you and nursing homes are taking steps to allow limited contact with patients currently.
8. Does the Location Work Well for You and Your Loved Ones?
Friend and family visits are easier when the facility is located close enough to your home or workplace to allow access to your loved one. Facilities will not be closed to visitors permanently, so it is important to determine if the location is suitable for regular visits. Regular visits to your loved one can help ensure they are getting the care they need as well as maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family members despite their confinement in a facility.
9. Check on the Grooming and Care of Others in the Facility
While visiting a nursing home in person may be difficult during the current pandemic, whenever possible, it is a good idea to drop into a facility unannounced and simply look in on the care others in the facility are getting on an ongoing basis. This is important because poor grooming and care of existing patients could be signs of under staffing or a poorly trained staff.
You want your loved one to be treated with dignity during their stay in a nursing home. One way you have to determine if this is the “normal” way patients are treated is to observe how the current patients are treated. If there are patients who display signs of poor grooming such as unkempt hair, untrimmed beards, or dirty clothing, this could be a warning sign.
10. Observe Staff Members Interaction with Patients
As you tour a facility, you will have the opportunity to observe how patients and staff members interact. If patients seem timid upon being approached by staff members it could be a sign of trouble. If patients are greeted warmly by staff members and their needs are being met, it is usually a good sign the facility is living up to their obligation to care for their patients.
Moving a loved one to a nursing home is stressful and making sure their legal affairs are in order is important. Finding the right nursing home should be a priority because every facility is not right for every patient. If you need assistance preparing or updating your loved one's will or powers of attorney, or if you have questions about Medicaid and your loved one's eligibility, contact Brown Weimer, LLC today at 504-561-8700. Our elder law attorneys can help you make sure you are fully prepared and informed for this important move.