Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Find a Great Nursing Home before You Need One

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Find a Great Nursing Home before You Need One

Article excerpt

NEW WRINKLES

Looking for something to do this summer that involves an air- conditioned environment? The slow season can be an excellent time to take yourself out for a nursing home tour.

It seems like not a workday goes by that I don't get a call from someone who has suddenly become part of the nether world of nursing homes, and is appalled by -- well, you name it; the food, the housekeeping, the noise, the lack of staffing or the lack of basic human caring. These issues are real, if difficult to document, and I have heard enough anecdotes to believe that even the finest facilities can be far from ideal for someone.

But here is one pattern I've seen: Most nursing home stays come as a result of an unexpected hospitalization. Before the patient is discharged, a caseworker calls around to find a spot for rehabilitation -- in lieu of those extended hospital stays of yesteryear -- and presents the family with a very short list of possibilities. The patient and caregiver usually know nothing about the names on the list, and they go where they are sent.

These tend to be the people who call me up with terrible stories. Mostly, those who have taken time to research their options ahead of time, and are able to choose a facility, tend to be happier with the choice.

The state's website, floridahealthfinder.gov, is actually a good place to start your search. Click on nursing homes, and you can learn about and compare places that are close to home. You can also check out the nice and naughty lists -- Gold Seal Facilities and the Nursing Home Watch List. State inspections don't tell the whole story, but they can offer you useful clues. And definitely visit your candidates in person.

Another indication of commitment to quality is the industry's own program to encourage best practices, known as the National Quality Awards program. The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living administer this rigorous application of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. …

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