Appropriate Evaluation of a Skilled Nursing Facility: A Tool for Patients and Families

Although patients and families are welcome to cruise online and look up “Yelp!” reviews, there are other ways to accurately research skilled nursing facilities.

Before diving in, think about the questions that you want answered:

What does the patient want in a facility?

Even though family members may have facility preferences, they will not be staying the night…the patient will. So, in the end it boils down to what the patient wants to see in the facility so please don’t ignore their preferences.

How close is the facility to my home?

Some families and patients prefer to be close to home for convenience purposes. This means that families can drop off items from home, visit more frequently without having to drive too far, and have close access to the facility in the event of medical changes, team meetings, or emergencies.

What are visiting hours like?

Call or check each website for the facilities in which you are interested in. Make sure you know for certain what visiting hours look like, and how many people are allowed to visit at a time.

Are the staff easy to contact during the day?

If the patient is staying in a fairly large facility, there is a chance that family/caregivers will be put on hold before talking to staff members. If you are okay with the wait and want to stay at a large, reputable facility then go with that.  If you’re honestly inpatient and prefer not to be put on hold then explore smaller facilities.

Will the facility provide me my own room or will I be sharing with another patient?

This really depends on facility policies and patient caseload. It never hurts to call the facility and ask about whether or not the patient can have their own room.

Is there a smoking area?

Some skilled nursing facilities are simply doing away with outdoor smoking areas. However, if a smoking routine is important to you then call the facility and ask if a space is available.

What are the satisfaction ratings on each facility?

Go to each and every individual website per facility that you research. Somewhere on the website should be a link to the latest satisfaction ratings as posted by previous patients and families at the facility.

What facilities will take my insurance?

This is a factor in which it doesn’t hurt to check, double check, and triple check. Some patients rely on hospital staff to locate skilled nursing facilities within your healthcare provider network.

Do the safe route and personally contact your insurance companies about coverage for the facilities in which you are interested in.  Ask what services (if not all of them) insurance will cover and for how many days.

In conclusion:

Once you have created a list of questions that you would like answered, research each facility website or personally call each facility in regards to your inquiries.

Relying heavily on public reviews won’t provide you with as much information as you think.

Additionally, always know that you can make more than one phone call if necessary.

If you found a good facility, the staff members there will be happy to assist you until you are satisfied.

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