This is a little off of the subject of couponing, but I’m hoping that it will help someone out there reading. Nursing home placement is never an easy choice. It is even more difficult when it is a decision that must be made in a very time limited way. Unfortunately that is a situation that all too often occurs for older adults after hospitalization.
In simplest of terms, there are two levels of care—skilled and long term care at nursing homes. Many times an older adult who has broken a bone or had a fall will go to a nursing home for what is called “skilled care”. Skilled nursing home care involves very active therapy and rehabilitation. For the first 100 days, a person with Medicare is covered for skilled nursing home care. The person must show a benefit from and compliance with therapy to remain eligible. If at the time of discharge from skilled the person is unable to return home or to a lower level of care (a retirement home or assisted living facility for example), long term care at a nursing home is another option.
I highly recommend speaking with a good elder law attorney to help secure assets and pay for care in nursing homes. See this great resource called "Saving Momma’s Home” for more information. Click this link for more information on Veteran’s Benefits. For the purpose of full disclosure, I work with Monica Franklin, CELA, here in Knoxville. Because I’ve seen her at work first hand, I know how good she is and how well she knows this stuff. If you are outside of this area, I recommend looking for a certified elder law attorney, as the certification requires extra training and expertise in this area of practice.
When an older adult is admitted to the hospital and there is even an inkling that nursing home care (skilled or otherwise) might be needed, contact the discharge planner immediately. If there is an especially good nursing home in your area, know that they might have a long waiting list. People on that list are given priority in the following order—hospital patients, skilled patients, and everyone else. If the discharge planner gets your loved one on the waiting list early, there is a better chance of he or she having pick of a nursing home rather than having to settle for what is available. If it is a weekend or a discharge planner isn’t available, you can call the nursing home yourself, but be sure to make note that your loved one is a hospital patient when doing so. Know that sometimes hospitals try to push family members to take a patient home if nursing home placement cannot be found immediately. To better understand your rights and how the discharge planner is meant to help you not dump the process of finding placement on you, read this article.
When choosing a nursing home, be sure to ask if the nursing home accepts Medicaid as a payment option. If your loved one enters the nursing home in skilled, but later needs long term care, it is important to have an option to pay with Medicaid if there are limited assets and income.
I hope some of you will find this information useful either for you, your family, or a friend who might be dealing with the difficult decision of nursing home placement. Please also know that this is a short explanation of some of the points to consider and each situation has its own special issues. I’m not offering any legal or professional advice, only making resources available so that you can do your own research and speak with qualified health or legal professionals to help you through the process.