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When a loved one has to enter a nursing home for extended care, there are probably a lot of concerns on your mind. You want to make sure the best care is being provided and that the staff is attentive, for one, but you probably also want to know about the lifestyle and general quality of life within a facility. In order to find the best-matched nursing home for someone you care about, there are some essential questions you should ask. Here are five important things to ask about.

Are Residents Autonomous?

Of course, in nursing care facilities there are parts of daily life that will be regulated. Living at home means having the choice to do as one pleases in terms of meals, sleeping schedule, etc. However, due to the community environment of nursing homes, there may be a limited amount of independence. Ask the directors how much autonomy residents have—can they choose when or what they want to eat, can they decorate their rooms how they like, can they go outside, etc.

What Certifications and Accreditations Does the Home Have?

Find out the results of inspections and look into what the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has ruled on a facility. If a facility is accredited by the JCAHO, it means that it has satisfied a strict set of quality control guidelines that include infection prevention and medication management. Another certification to ask about is the one provided by Medicare—this is a crucial certification to have if you are getting financial help from Medicare, as they will only pay for facilities that it has certified.

What Are the Official Policies?

This is similar to asking about autonomy, but it’s a bit more specific. For instance—are there specific visiting hours? Is there a choice of roommates or are they randomly assigned? Is smoking allowed, and can pets visit? Ask about what your daily life will be like in the facility.

What is the Staff Like?

How much attention each resident gets from nursing staff depends on how many people work there in relation to how many people are living there. Ask the other residents, if you can, how much time they get to spend with medical and nursing staff. Find out if you’ll still be able to see your own doctors, if there is a social worker on staff, and other information about the people who work there.

What Type of Preventative Care is Offered?

Check to see what the nursing home’s care schedule is like and what they serve residents to eat. Are there opportunities for exercise, and are the meals nutritious? Are pneumonia or flu vaccines available? Medical care in community health facilities is extremely important to disease and infection prevention, so it’s essential for a nursing home to have policies in place for this.

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