30. Picking the right Nursing Home in New York City

Picking the right Nursing Home in New York City

Senior Hug helps you Pick the right Nursing Home for your loved ones.   Senior Hug has a directory of the Nursing Homes that are within New York City.  We try to help both the elders and their families find the right Nursing Home that fits their needs and the level of care that they want.

Your mom, dad or another close relative needs a nursing home. Finding the right facility, with a constant level of skilled care, is a serious undertaking. Bad nursing homes neglect, steal from and even abuse residents.

Good ones help them live happy, dignified lives despite being in poor health and may even help them improve enough to move to assisted living or return home. Here are some tips on how to pick the right place.

Check the Ratings

A good place to begin narrowing your nursing home options is with the feds – specifically, Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare feature. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, rates nursing homes based on comprehensive annual health inspections, 18 measures of residents’ quality of life and staffing levels.

The ratings are updated about once a year or whenever someone files a complaint against a nursing home with the state regulatory agency.

CMS gives each nursing home a rating from one to five stars. Avoid facilities with one or two stars, which indicate serious problems with residents’ care; look for ones with four or five stars. Then, review the detailed ratings for each facility. A home might have five stars overall, but just two stars for quality measures (which reflects treatment of specific conditions).

You can also use the nursing home search tool from ProPublica, an independent non-profit organization that conducts investigative journalism in the public interest, to search CMS reports on nursing home deficiencies. The site will help you uncover specific problems cited during nursing home inspections.

Once you have a preliminary list, call each facility to find out if it has beds available and to ask how much it charges for care, making sure to get detailed figures based on your loved one’s actual needs. If there is no availability or the cost does not fit your budget, there’s no use researching that home further.
Flaws in the Ratings

Ratings can give you a general idea of which facilities might be best and which to avoid, but they aren’t perfect. The New York Times in August 2014 reported on how nursing homes were able to game the star rating system, since they actually supplied the data for staff levels and quality measures; only the annual health inspection ratings were based on independent observations.

This means a facility could have a five-star rating, despite numerous complaints and even lawsuits over the quality of care. In January 2015, CMS introduced improvements to the two self-reported measures.


Digging Deeper

Families for Better Care, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based non-profit advocacy group, says your next step should be to contact your local long-term care ombudsman. Under this government-mandated program, ombudsmen regularly visit and advocate on behalf of nursing home residents. Ask your ombudsman for complaint data on the nursing homes on your list. You can even talk to the specific person who has visited each facility.

Other possible sources of recommendations include doctors, elder law attorneys, elder advocacy groups, members of religious organizations or clubs you or your loved one belongs to, friends and coworkers. Make sure their recommendations are based on recent experience, as nursing home conditions can change.

Hospital discharge planners, on the other hand, “may or may not be good sources, given their interest sometimes in just moving patients out of the hospital,” says Eric Carlson, directing attorney at Justice in Aging, a national organization that fights senior poverty.


Get Referrals

If the whole process of finding a reputable nursing home seems like more than you can manage, consider a placement service. These services can recommend facilities, take you on tours and help you negotiate a contract. “We review the care and violation histories of the communities we refer to, every single time, before we do a tour, as the violation histories can change dramatically in a short period of time,” says Haley Gray, owner of CarePatrol of the Triangle, in North Carolina.
Because of this potential conflict of interest, you should research the placement service’s reputation and independently verify any information the placement service gives you. Make your own, unannounced visits to the facilities you’re considering.

Also keep in mind that there may be excellent facilities available that the placement service will not refer you to because they are not contracted with that facility and therefore won’t earn any commission for sending you there.
Ask Questions

During your visit, ask about the staff-to-patient ratio and how that ratio changes throughout the day and over the weekend. Ask about – and try to observe – how long it takes staff to respond to patients’ requests for assistance. Visit during meal time to see if the food is appetizing and observe how staff interacts with patients of varying needs.

Always try to be vigilant in asking questions or in trying to get as much information as you want.

Drop by unannounced, and, if you make more than one visit, try going at different times of day. In a good, secure facility, you probably won’t get far, but it can be significant to see how long it takes a stranger’s presence to register. And a place should be ready to give you a tour any time; the more impromptu, the more of a real-life perspective you’ll get.

Ask how many hours of physical and occupational therapy residents receive daily, and ask staff how long they’ve worked there Also consider staff morale; if the workers seem unhappy to be there, that could indicate an underlying problem with the nursing home. Also ask staff what they’d like to see improved about the home.

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