Long-Term Care Facilities: What to Vet When the Time Comes

Where to Start and What To Look for In Long-Term Care Facilities

Beginning a search for a long-term care facility for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or Dementia can feel overwhelming. Few families have experience vetting long-term care facilities. It is important to know where to start, what to ask, and how to compare services to make a sound decision.

So where do you start? Two critical first steps are to determine what kind of care your loved one needs and your budget. These factors drive the next steps of your research. Talk to their doctors to learn the important aspects to consider in your loved one’s case. Also, determine what you can contribute financially, as well as any resources your loved one has available. 

Now you can begin the search for a facility with appropriate levels of care that you can afford. Most people start online for facilities that meet their criteria. When you find a match, make an appointment for a tour to see firsthand what life would be like there.

Ask questions about the following five areas: 

Administrative Concerns address the physical and financial details, including:

  • What is covered by your basic costs?
  • What is considered an additional service not covered by your basic rate?
  • What are the patient’s rights in the facility?

Licensing Facts relate to the inspections and quality of the establishment, such as:

  • When was the last inspection?
  • Have you had any citations and for what areas?
  • How do you handle complaints?

Safety Measures refer to the look and feel of the facility, like:

  • How do the residents and staff interact?
  • How often do residents get bathed?
  • Does the facility have proper physical conditions for the patients (e.g., sufficient lighting, sturdy handrails on the stairs, and easy access for wheelchairs)?
  • What safety measures are used specifically for patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (e.g., chair alarms, bed alarms)?

Day-to-day Life involves the details of the schedule as far as personal belongings, dietary concerns, and daily activities, including:

  • What is a typical schedule for an average weekday?
  • How does the kitchen manage special dietary concerns?
  • Can residents bring their furniture?

Care Approach covers the particular needs associated with residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, especially the following:

  • What training does the staff have to address the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
  • Is the facility safe for patients that might try to wander away?
  • How do you handle individual care needs for patients suffering from dementia and other related diseases?

To read a  comprehensive list of essential questions to ask when vetting long-term care facilities, please click here.

Also, try the following while touring long-term care facilities:

  • Imagine how you would feel at the facility. Would you want to be there?
  • Check references if possible. Talk with a few staff members about their jobs to try to get insight into their philosophy of care.
  • Note the ratio of patients to staff members. Too many residents per staff member can translate to a lower quality of care, no matter how excellent the staff is.
  • Discover the plan for medical support for the facility. What medical personnel are on site? How are medications handled? Do the caregivers live in or work in shifts? All of these factors contribute to the overall care provided to the residents.

To read more about how to evaluate the facility during your tour, please click here.

How Does the Facility Meet Behavioral Healthcare Needs? 

Many behavioral health care providers (e.g., psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) specialize in caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Some long-term care facilities have behavioral health care providers on-site. Their presence aids in the coordination of treatment and can be less disruptive to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Behavioral health care providers help with assessment. They assess for a variety of things, including the patient’s mental skills, as well as emotional and behavioral function. Assessment aids in accurate diagnosis and developing effective interventions to address the patient’s needs. 

Behavioral health care providers also assist with the stress management. Patients may suffer from sensory changes and cognitive problems. These include memory loss, confusion, and difficulty planning and organizing. These issues can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, and anger. Behavioral health care providers prescribe the appropriate medication and therapeutic services to help them cope.  Behavioral health care providers also support other essential components of care, including education of caregivers and ways to reduce caregiver stress.

Behavioral health care providers also support other essential components of care, including education of caregivers and ways to reduce caregiver stress.

Unfortunately, few local long-term care facilities employ behavioral healthcare providers. Achieve Wellness Group provides services to many long-term care facilities in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding counties. For more information about on-site services, please contact us.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have compiled a guide to choosing long-term care facilities. The guide provides contact information for resources to help you, as well as how to compare care services, financing options, and what rights residents can expect. To download the pdf, including a checklist for comparing providers, please click here.

Finding a quality long-term care facility for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.  Vetting long-term care facilities is essential to finding one that meets the needs of your loved one and helps them enjoy the best quality of life possible.

For more information on local long-term care facilities Achieve Wellness Group provides behavioral health professional support, please contact us.