Guest Blog: Finding a Skilled Nursing Facility

August 13, 2014

You may ask, "Why should I worry about finding a skilled nursing facility now?  I will probably never need one."

And my hope is that you are right--that you will never need to be in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). But, in case you do need that service, what are some of the reasons that you might suddenly find yourself in a SNF?

  • You have a hip or knee replacement and need recovery and rehab support. 
  • You have surgery and need a higher level of support for a few days or more post-op.
  • You develop a urinary tract infection (UTI), become very weak, and are not steady enough at home until you recover and get your strength back.
  • You have been experiencing a lot of falls and, at least for now, are not safe living at home until you have physical therapy and get stronger. 
  • You have fallen and broken a hip or shoulder and need 24-hour care until you recover.

These are just a few examples but all are realistic.  Some of the issues that cause an admittance to the hospital or SNF are avoidable with a little vigilance and perhaps caregiver support if the older adult is in a weakened state.  The priority is to do whatever is needed to prevent hospitalizations and falls. This frequently involves family members monitoring their loved one's status and calling the doc or getting a caregiver in place as a preventive measure.  (Future blogs will include guest inputs from the medical community).

When admittance to a SNF becomes necessary it is good to have that advance planing in place. So, how do you select the best SNF for you?  Here are some of the important items:

  • Food! Yes, I agree that quality of food is important.  You need to eat to regain strength and you want the quality of food to be healthy as well as tasty. 
  • Physical therapy department.  What is the PT department like, do they have adequate equipment and trained staff, what is their PT schedule? Do they have staff that will take you for extra walks outside of PT visits?
  • Response times.  What is their response time policy vs their actual documented response times? When you are ringing the buzzer for bathroom assistance you want to know they will respond within 3-5 minutes. As we al know, when nature calls she isn't always patient!
  • Smells. What does a facility smell like?  Does it smell fresh and clean or is there a smell of urine, chemicals, or mustiness?
  • People parking. When you walk down the halls, are people parked in wheelchairs in the hallway or are they engaged in activities?  An activities program isn't offered at all facilities but I feel it is important to engage someone socially and cognitively throughout recovery. 
  • Animal therapy. Is there an animal therapy program or 'Love on a Leash' visits?
  • Attractiveness and cleanliness. What does the facility look like?  Is it a place you don't mind being in?  No one wants to be in a SNF but, when it is a necessity, it should be a facility that you at least consider tolerable.

So, where do you start?  Our recommendation is to start on the Medicare website. You can do a search of all SNFs in your area and see the ratings based on various criteria such as PT, quality of service, and quality of the facility. A good facility can make all thee difference.

This article curtosy of Alta Golden Senior Services.  To learn more about AltaGolden call any time for assistance at 858-779-9254.