There are a variety of reasons that someone may need to spend time in a nursing home. Common reasons include temporary disability, acute rehabilitation therapy or long-term care. Choosing a nursing home can be stressful for caregivers, especially if the person who will be living in one is resisting. It is therefore very important that facilities under consideration are thoroughly checked for comfort, level of care and accessibility according to needs.
Types of Facilities
There are various types of nursing home facilities that can provide care for a loved one. The types include:
- Long-term care facilities. These facilities primarily care for an aging population. They may have limited resources available to care for a disabled patient with special needs.
- Daycare facilities. These facilities often operate out of long-term care facilities. They offer daytime care while their primary caregiver works during the day. The services vary, offering options such as day trips, games, art and physical activities.
- Acute care rehab facilities – usually short-term. These facilities may be part of a larger long-term facility. Rehab facility programs usually provide 2-3 hours of physical therapy per day as well as other types of therapies for those who are recovering from disabling incident or surgery.
- Youth care facilities. Youth care facilities may be independent from eldercare facilities, or they may be part of a long-term care facility. Since children and young adults have very different needs from other adults, it is important to find a facility that caters to their specific needs.
The type of facility should fit the needs of the patient. For example, don’t rely on a long-term facility to provide rigorous rehabilitation therapy for a patient unless they specifically offer this type of service. Many individuals aren’t aware that there are many options available when it comes to nursing home facilities; therefore it is important to find out what your options are by doing some research before making a commitment.
Levels of Care
At each facility there may be differing levels of care, depending on the needs of patients. Family members and caregivers should expect the following:
- Long-term care. Many eldercare nursing homes provide minimal care to the residents, aside from offering various amenities and activities. They usually employ many Certified Nursing Assistants, a few Registered Nurses and possibly a physician or nurse practitioner who is available during waking hours. It is preferable to look for a facility that provides a physician or nurse practitioner who is available around the clock if a loved one has a chronic health issue or disabling disease.
- Daycare. A daycare facility provides what its name implies – care during the day. The amount of care and attention depends upon the caregiver ratio to the number of patients. Depending upon the individual needs of the patient (such as a child with muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy), a lower ratio is preferred. Look for a facility that provides activities geared toward the age of the patient, especially when looking for care for a child. A daycare for the elderly won’t offer much for a teen who is disabled. On-site caregivers usually have experience providing activities for children and/or adults, and additional staff members are often Certified Nursing Assistants.
- Acute rehab facilities. Acute rehab facilities vary greatly, depending upon whether they are state-run or private. Patients should expect to have licensed physical therapists and occupational therapists work with them during their therapy sessions. Between therapy sessions there are usually Certified Nursing Assistants attending their needs. Look for a facility that also has Registered Nurses on staff around the clock, as well as a physician or nurse practitioner.
- Youth care facilities. A youth care facility should have its primary focus on the care of children and young adults. Their needs include longer open hours during the evening so they may interact with friends and family (many eldercare facilities close their doors to visitors at 8pm). They also may need tutors so they can continue their education. In addition, they have healthcare needs, such as birth control and menstruation, which need to be addressed. Since they may fall prey to caregivers in a facility, it is very important to carefully select one that performs background checks on the employees. Primary caregivers in a youth care facility include Certified Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses and specialty care providers, such as licensed therapists. Depending upon a child’s disability issues, having a nurse practitioner or physician available at all times may be an important consideration in the selection process.
When Problems Arise
Occasionally, the fit between a patient and a facility does not work out. A family may decide there isn’t enough care, or that there is too much oversight. There may be incidences of neglect, or a patient may feel that there aren’t enough stimulating activities to keep them occupied. When this happens, family members should first contact the administrator at the facility to address any problems. If there is no resolution, the next step is to find another facility, and then have the case manager at the new location arrange the move. The most important thing is to place the needs and dignity of the patient over those of any facility.