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How To Choose a Skilled Nursing Home

 Skilled Care with Rehabilitation Services

Nursing Home and Rehabilitation

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When you no longer need the amount of care provided in the hospital, the hospital will begin the process to discharge you.

Most people hope to go straight home from the hospital after surgery or being ill. But even if you and your doctor planned for you to go home, your recovery may be slower than expected. So, you may need to go to a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility.

Skilled nursing facilities provide care for people who are not yet able to care for themselves at home. After your stay at the facility, you may be able to return home and care for yourself.

A Skilled Nursing Facility is a lot like a nursing home and many times the terms used are one in the same, but a true skilled nursing facility may offer more "skilled" medical expertise and services. Yet, a Skilled Nursing Facility provides skilled nursing care and/or rehabilitation services to help injured, sick, or disabled individuals to get back on their feet.

Licensed by the state's Department of Health Services, Skilled nursing care facilities have regulation and inspection requirements. Skilled nursing facilities provide care for patients who require intense skilled medical care. Patients remain under skilled nurses and doctors care; who specialize in the care of the elderly.

A nursing home is a place for people who don't need to be in a hospital but can't be cared for at home. Most nursing homes have nursing aides and skilled nurses on hand 24 hours a day. Some nursing homes are set up like a hospital. The staff provides medical care, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapy

Some nursing homes have special care units for people with serious memory problems such as Alzheimer's disease. Some will let couples live together. Nursing homes are not only for the elderly, but for anyone who requires 24-hour care.

But did you know that original Medicare generally DOES NOT cover long-term care stays in a nursing home? Watch this video from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services to learn more.

How to Choose a Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home is a difficult task for most. In Texas alone, there are currently 1,207 certified nursing facilities. Determining which nursing home will provide the best possible care for your loved one should always be the most important when making your decision. Always remember, things aren't always as they appear.

There are many things to consider when choosing a nursing home for your loved one.

If you get the run-around or if the report contains any unexplained health, safety, or quality of life deficiencies, consider dropping that facility from your consideration.

Also, it's important to compare Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes and to view the quality of care provided to patients. Medicare.gov offers the best, most reliable Texas Nursing Home Compare tool around.

Licensing and Regulating Texas Nursing Homes

The Office of the Attorney General works with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to protect senior Texans and other residents of long-term care facilities (LTCs) from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. LTCs include nursing homes, intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded (ICF/MR), and assisted living facilities (sometimes called personal care homes).

DADS is the state agency charged with licensing and inspecting nursing homes. DADS also has authority to investigate alleged violations of state and federal nursing home standards.

If upon investigation DADS has concerns about a licensed home, they may refer the investigation to this agency for enforcement. The Office of the Attorney General will act swiftly and aggressively to address violations referred by the DADS Long-term Care regulatory Section.

Tips When Choosing a Nursing Home

  • If Medicaid or Medicare are paying for the nursing home care make sure the facility is a certified Medicare and or Medicaid provider...or both.
  • Talk with your physician about the level of care and any specific services that are needed and make sure the facility can meet those needs. Find out what medical, therapeutic, and other specialty services are available.
  • What services are included in the basic daily rate? Ask for a complete list of specific services and benefits not covered in the basic rate.
  • Make a worksheet for evaluating each facility you are considering. Select the criteria you feel are important and "weight" the different criteria based on what is most important to you and what is less important.
  • When evaluating a nursing home it's important that you get answers to whatever questions you may have, that you not feel intimidated, and that you have a tour of the entire facility. Spend plenty of time at each of the facilities. Make unexpected return visits to the facilities that look promising at different times of the day and evening and around meal time.
  • Talk with everyone from the administrator to the director of admissions, nurses, visitors, volunteers, family members of residents at the facility. Notice the interaction between staff and residents, interaction among the staff, and the activity level of residents. Is family involvement encouraged and, if so, how?
  • When trying to decide on which homes to visit talk to your physician, friends who have had experiences with local facilities, hospital social workers and religious organizations. Referrals from someone you know and trust are often your best source.

Both the Texas Health Care Association and Leading Age Texas have checklists for helping select a quality nursing home that best meets your needs. Keep in mind that in home care and community-based services may be options that can allow a person to remain in their own home or in the community as long as possible.

Consider checking out some of these options too such as home health care, personal assistance services, homemaker/chore services, adult day care and respite care. Aging in place technology is making it possible for older adults to remain at home longer, and safely.

If you have a problem involving a nursing home contact the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at (512) 444-2727. An Ombudsman is a advocate (supporter) who works to solve problems between residents and nursing homes, as well as assisted living facilities.

Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare - Detailed information about every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.

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DISCLAIMER: Links to other websites or references to products, services or publications do not imply the endorsement or approval of such websites, products, services or publications by Elder Options of Texas. The determination of the need for senior care services and the choice of a facility is an extremely important decision. Please make your own independent investigation.