The decision to place yourself or a family member into a nursing home is one of the most difficult decisions you may ever be asked to make. That is why it is important, if the time comes, to have a plan to know what questions to ask.
Often times, decisions have to be made quickly and without a lot of information or comparisons. In a perfect world, you’d have plenty of time to visit the nursing homes, talk to the residents, meet the care staff, sample the food and so on. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and Covid has certainly made these inquiries more difficult.
Your goals should be to:
Find the right nursing home.
Get the best care there.
Pay for it without going broke.
In spite of Covid, here are nine questions you should try to ask before placing a loved one in in a nursing facility.
Is a nursing home necessary, or are there alternatives?
Many people do not realize that there may be an alternative to placing a loved one into a nursing home. Talk to your physician, social workers and other professionals to see if there is an assisted living, home health care or other alternatives right for you.
How do I find the right nursing home?
The best way to find the right nursing home is to take a systematic approach that includes knowing what your loved one wants and prefers. The State of Connecticut ranks virtually every nursing home in Connecticut based on federal and state investigation reports and other data. Then shop around until you find a nursing home that you are comfortable with.
Once I find the right nursing home, how can I get in?
Surviving the admissions process isn’t always easy. Be up front with the nursing home admissions director. Be prepared to tell them about your situation, including your finances, and be prepared to negotiate.
Who will pay for my care…me, Medicare or Medicaid?
This will depend on your personal situation and knowledge of this difficult area of law. You also have to be sure to take advantage of the special protections available to your spouse if he or she will not also be in the nursing home. A good elder law attorney can help you through the entire process.
Can they make my kids pay for my care?
Not if you handle the admissions process properly. Just be careful not to sign everything that’s put in front of you without a thorough understanding of all the documents.
Once I get in, how can I get the best care there?
The key here is to have a plan in place. This is a plan developed by the nursing home staff professionals (and you) to determine exactly what kind of care you’ll get. Putting a proper care plan in place is perhaps the most important step you can take. The care plan is part of your contract. If you feel you can’t be the best advocate for yourself, then it’s important to get help from an elder law attorney or a geriatric care manager or another health professional.
Can I be moved around the facility, from room to room, once admitted?
There are several protections for you under federal and state law. Oftentimes, people are moved without proper notice, and even without proper authority. Spend some time learning about your rights as a resident or work with someone who will be an advocate for you.
What are the nursing home’s duties to me?
Ask the nursing home for a copy of their duties under the Nursing Home Reform Act. Because of the history of inadequate care, in the late 1980’s, Congress passed laws which outline the minimum standards for health, safety and residents’ rights in nursing homes. Chances are you’ll be surprised and pleased to learn all of your rights. But, you need to take the time to learn them.
Is there anyone who can help me with all of this?
You can get help from many professionals – from an elder law attorney, to a geriatric care manager, to a social worker.
Be sure to deal with a professional who understands the broad range of issues that arise when you or a loved one goes into a nursing home.
Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol. (860) 5831341 or ktelderlaw. com.