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5 areas to examine when looking for long-term care facilities

There are hundreds of thousands of people in skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, too many of these residents do not get the care or services they deserve.

To protect yourself and your loved ones from inadequate care, there are some important factors you must examine and consider when you are looking for a suitable facility.

  1. Staffing levels-When you visit any facility, pay attention to the staffing levels. Does it seem like there are enough people to help residents, answer phones and tend to common areas? Ask about staffing turnover. High turnover can be an indication of difficult or substandard working conditions. Visiting at different times of day or without an appointment can also help you get some insight on this.
  2. Common area conditions-What do the common areas look like? Are there games, decorations and other items to make it comfortable and inviting? Are they clean?
  3. History of safety violations-The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment maintains a database of complaints and violations in nursing home facilities. Check these records for any facility you may be considering. You should also conduct a basic internet search for a specific facility or director and see if any troubling entries show up.
  4. Other residents and their family members-Talking to residents at a facility can help you get some insight into their experiences. Do they feel safe? Has their health dramatically declined or improved? Are there social activities? Getting this first-hand perspective can be invaluable.
  5. Medical teams and practices-Review the medical teams at the facility. Are there enough doctors and nurses? Is there someone specifically assigned to preventing infections? How often do you see staff members wash their hands? You should also inquire about their medication policies and what they do if a resident's condition worsens or he or she is injured. 

These elements can help you gauge whether a facility is right for your or a loved one. 

To further protect yourself or family members from substandard care, you can start thinking about saving for long-term care services sooner, rather than later. Having appropriate financial resources can help you avoid complications and be more selective when it comes time to choose a facility.

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