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What to look for when choosing a nursing home

Caregiving 101's Scott Silknitter breaks down what you need to look for when deciding on a caregiving facility.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The investigation continues into the Thomasville nursing home in which police said they found two people dead at an understaffed facility during the winter storm on Sunday.

"I'm livid and so upset that this actually happened. Hopefully, this is a trigger so it doesn't happen again," said Scott Silknitter with Caregiving 101.

This tragedy brings to light things we should all consider when looking into living facilities.

"These are our parents, our grandparents, great-grandparents. They all helped build what we enjoy today and it's not right for them to be treated and be in a situation where something like this could happen," Silknitter said.

Silknitter said it's up to the state legislature to make sure the proper laws are in place. He believes the staff-to-patient ratio needs to go up.

However, there's plenty you can do when choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one.

Here are five main points to look into:

  1. Visit medicare.gov to find the 9-page checklist for nursing homes
  2. Look at specialty care
  3. Look at staffing
  4. Look at the residents
  5. Look at the facility

Let's break down each of those five points. 

Once you find the checklist for nursing homes, you'll want to make sure the facility you're considering is certified for Medicare and Medicaid. This would make sure that an inspector would come out every 9-15 months. The state also reports inspections.

You'll want to see if there's specialty care for whatever you and/or your loved one needs. If they have dementia, they'll need a facility that specifically cares for dementia patients.

Staffing is also very important. What is the staff, patient ratio? The acceptable ratio is each resident must have 4.1 hours of care per day. It's also important to see what the staff turnover is like.

Next, look at the residents that live at that facility. Ask these questions. What is the resident care plan and how often is that updated? How are the meals served? Do those meals taste good?

Lastly, you'll want to look at the facility. How close is the location to family or friends? Would someone be able to easily check in on the person in that home? As far as the physical building, check out its safety. How is the lighting inside? Does it look safe? Does it look clean?

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