According to sources, funding for government agencies responsible for overseeing long-term care facilities is insufficient. They lack the resources to do proper inspections of residential health facilities.
You may have seen the rating system provided by the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS awards stars to healthcare facilities on “Care Compare.”
The stars are there to help you make informed decisions. The more stars, the better the facility is supposed to be. However, the website also advises that in addition “to reviewing the information here, you should talk to your doctor, social worker, or other health care providers when choosing a provider.”
The good news is that the government is aware that residential care and government oversight must improve. There are efforts underway to better protect our nation’s elderly population. In the meantime, it is important to look beyond government ratings when investigating a facility for yourself or a loved one.
What to Look for in a Facility
Part of your research should include visiting the facility. Look for these qualities during your visit:
- Well-groomed, engaged residents
- Accessibility for residents with disabilities, such as elevators that can accommodate wheelchairs.
- Decent food
- Attentive staff
- Nice rooms and furniture
- Adequate health precautions
In addition to visiting, you will want to talk with current and former residents or their families. Their experiences will help you decide if any facility is a good fit for your loved one’s needs.
You will also want to evaluate practical issues such as affordability and location. Even the best facility in the world is not a good fit if no one will be able to visit the resident regularly.
Of course, many older adults would rather receive in-home care instead of living in a residential facility. That option comes with challenges too. Government money available for in-home care is stretched thin, leaving many people on waiting lists to receive funds. Care workers are often not paid enough, affecting the availability and standard of care.
If you choose in-home care, consider having a family member regularly check in on the person receiving care. During these visits, look for evidence of safety, hygiene, and emotional well-being.
The research and visits will take time. However, the reward of knowing that your loved ones are as healthy and happy as possible is worth the effort.