When people find out that I work with the geriatric population, they often ask me about how to pick a good nursing home. I’ve worked with many facilities over the course of my career, and I keep coming back to the same advice. Walk into a nursing home unannounced. Watch as you walk down the halls at how the staff talk with and treat the residents when they do not think that anyone is looking. Do they call them by name? Is there smiling? Do you hear the staff complaining amongst themselves? Do you see and hear call lights going off with staff sitting around and not attending to residents’ needs? Do you see residents smile when staff members approach? The day to day care that your loved one will receive is what will ultimately decide how successful the placement will be.
While I won’t name names, I’ll give you an example from a nursing home that I visit in the East TN area. It isn’t a bit fancy. The building is older and very dated looking. I love walking in there, though. I always come unannounced and many of the staff don’t know me from Adam. By the time I walk out of the facility, I’m almost welling with tears at the kindness I’ve seen. The staff are happy and smiling; I can’t think of a time I’ve witnessed them complaining. They treat the residents with such respect and kindness. The residents are smiling, and I’m not just talking about some residents. Overall, most of the residents I see are smiling. When staff approach a resident, they smile and talk with him/her like a friend or family member instead of clinically or demonstratively. The staff turnover rate isn’t high, which is a good sign for how the administration treats the staff, how committed the staff are to the residents, and speaks to the continuity of care.