One of the biggest decisions that some people in Illinois face every year is whether to place their loved one in a nursing home, and if so, what home to select. With so many facilities to choose from, it can be a daunting task to sift through the information and determine which nursing home will provide your family member with the care that she deserves and the help that she needs.
If you are faced with this difficult decision, make sure you do your research as the care provided may vary significantly from one location to another.
Initially, know that Medicare has developed a ranking system for nursing homes in almost all parts of the nation. The rating system is based on a number of stars and a facility can be awarded up to five stars in three separate categories: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Based upon these three categories, a facility is given an overall ranking between one and five stars where one star is much below average, two stars is below average, three stars is average, four stars is above average, and five stars is much above average.
Those who are interested in the Medicare rankings can review and compare different facilities by name and/or geographic area to learn the number of stars awarded in each area by simply visiting Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website.
Yet, it is critically important to realize that Medicare itself is not the entity that reports the data which leads to the awarding of these rankings. Rather, the nursing homes themselves and some other third party entities supply information related to their inspections, staffing levels, and certain quality measures and that information is what determines the rankings. Therefore, it is unwise to rely solely on the Medicare rankings or the number of stars awarded to a facility.
Instead, wise individuals who are looking to place a loved one in a nursing home in Illinois may want to use the Medicare rankings in combination with other investigative efforts to determine what home is the best for their family member.
Insurance may be another important factor to consider if a nursing home may be on the horizon for someone you care about. Many facilities accept a wide range of long term care insurance and health insurance in the event that it provides for nursing care but certain facilities only accept certain types of insurance. If you are worried about the availability of payment options, inquire into accepted insurance when you are looking into possible long term care options.
Know that nothing can take the place of an actual in-person inspection. To get a good feel for the home, go and visit the facility and take a tour. Note the availability of options that exist for current residents including recreational activities, housing preferences, room designs, relationships with physicians and hospitals, and the level of care and attention provided by the staff. While taking a scheduled tour may be beneficial, it is also a good idea to make an unannounced visit so that you can experience the home exactly as it is on a typical day.
If you do end up placing someone in a nursing home, make sure you visit often and irregularly if possible. Studies show that the best care is given to residents with frequent visitors and regular appearances at the home will also allow you to notice any signs of nursing home abuse or neglect, if they materialize.
Prior Blog Entry:
Falls in Nursing Homes Often go Unreported, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, published April 20, 2016.