Three weeks after my mom had a heart attack, it was time to move her to a long-term care or rehab facility. The social worker at the hospital handed us a packet filled with names of facilities and told us to pick one. This was a huge task, and we were completely unprepared. The only thing we could do was narrow down the location, but after that we were flying blind. Even finding basic information proved difficult. Many facilities either didn’t have websites or the websites were pretty useless. The first place we picked failed to meet our standards. Frantic, I found myself calling around on a Saturday morning looking for a better option—and wishing I was better prepared.
Consider these tips and you’ll be better prepared than we were:
- Utilize Your Network
Get on Facebook or Twitter, update your CaringBridge page or send a mass email to your family and friends and ask for referrals. A personal recommendation goes a long way for something this important. My mom ended up at a wonderful facility mentioned by a family friend. I never would’ve known it existed without the referral.
- Take a Tour
Most likely the hospital wants to move you along quickly and discharge the patient, but if you have the time, get to a couple facilities and check them out. Meet the staff, peek in the rooms, examine the common areas and ask questions.
- Get on Waiting Lists
Many times the nicest places will have waiting lists. Put your name down; people transfer out quickly and you can always move if a space at your first choice opens up.
- Go With Your Gut
My mom didn’t want to make a fuss, but I could tell from day one that she wasn’t happy at our first pick. Once I visited, I felt the same. I got her on the waiting list for another facility and she moved within the week. It was so much better: more friendly, private, cheery and clean.
Provide Your Own Tips
What other suggestions or helpful hints do you have when selecting a long term care facility? Or better yet, after your own experiences what things do you think people should avoid or do differently? Everyone enjoys receiving tips before it is too late– so help another caregiver out! The more suggestions, the better.