When searching for a place for your loved one for either short-term rehab or long-term care, the first step is to find out what nursing homes are in the immediate area and how far you are willing to travel. The closer you are to your loved ones, the easier it is to visit them or to get there when needed.
Think about the philosophy of care at the facility, and whether it has a spiritual-based component. This may not be important to everyone, but for a loved one who has a strong faith life, an onsite chaplain might be comforting. Talk to the admissions director, the social worker, or other administrator to answer your initial questions.
The next step is to visit. Look at the accommodations closely and how the rooms are cared for. Take note of how the staff interacts with each other and with the residents. Remember this is where your loved one will be living. Are the accommodations homelike, or do they seem institutional? Ask if space allows for furniture from home, or if you can personalize your loved one’s room with pictures, keepsakes, and other special items. Are the rooms private or share? If shared, is there a privacy curtain?
Next, consider the amenities. Is there a phone and TV for each resident, and is there enough space for their clothes?
Ask to review an activity calendar so you can see how many programs and the types of activities offered. Do they offer programs that your loved one would be interested in? Does the recreation department have books, magazines, audiotapes etc.? Can the residents go on trips? Is there entertainment and movies? Is the Internet accessible? Is there a garden where people sit outside in nice weather?
Food is also very important. Eating is one of the most social things at any facility. Are the dining rooms set up to promote socialization? Ask to sample the food. Does the kitchen provide different types of food or do they serve the same meals week after week? Do they have a menu? Ask if they allow for special diets, i.e. vegetarian or kosher, and whether requests can be made. Do they serve fresh fruit? Is the food plated in an appetizing way?
No place will ever be like home, but TLCN can be as close to being home-like as you want it to be.