Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesdays with Elders - Finding A Facility

With Ma in the geriatric psych hospital and temporary guardian/conservator papers in place, the race began to find a long term care facility (i.e. nursing home) that would be able to take Ma. Not only was I looking for a nursing home that would take Ma, but I needed one that would also accept Dad when his turn came around. My parents had been married for 68 years. The only time they had been separated during their married life was 1943 - 1945 when Dad was in the Army Air Corp. during WWII. It was important to me to find a place that would take both.

Finding a nursing home is a bit like searching for colleges. You tour places, look over the grounds, the rooms, meet some staff, and talk to the business office about finances and financial aid (Medicare). The facility will send a nurse to do an evaluation to see if they are equipped to handle the level of care the elder needs and if they have room. Just like a college search, you need to have four or five places in mind as your elder might not get into your first choice.

If your Elder has to spend time in a rehab facility due to a fall or illness, pay attention to the surroundings. The short term rehab facilities are also long term care facilities. What to look for: Is the building clean? Does the building smell? Are the staff kind and patient? Are the residents clean? Is the facility quiet or are the residents screaming and crying? Does a staff member respond quickly to requests? Are there activities too keep residents entertained and busy, or are residents just parked in a common area with nothing to do and no one to talk to?  Do not announce your visits and try to go at different times so you can see what happens on different shifts.

My criteria was simple. I didn't want to put Ma (or Dad) into a hole or a prison. Since Dad was still living in their home, I wanted a place that was closer to his house than mine. He had lots of friends at the Senior Center and in his church choir, I thought if I couldn't take him to visit Ma, one of his friends might be able to give him a lift.The social worker at the geriatric psych unit, me a list of places to check out.

One facility on her list, I nixed right away. Ma had spent some time at the facility in rehab when she had fractured one of the vertebra in her neck. They had her wheelchair fitted with an alarm so if Ma got up out of the chair on her own, the alarm would go off. I had stopped in to visit and found Ma standing up next to her wheelchair. The alarm was singing. Ma's roommate came over and showed me how to turn the alarm off. Not one staff person came to see why the alarm was going off! Ma has a red wrist band on that screamed she was at risk for falls, but no one came to check on her!

My first choice was the ivy league of nursing homes, one town over from where my folks lived. A friend of mine had her mother and in-laws in this nursing home and she had good things to say about it. The facility was run by nuns and was on the same route as Himself's commute to work. If items needed to be dropped off, he'd be able to do that. The grounds were also well manicured with lovely gardens. Residents could be taken outside in nice weather. The common areas had lots of alcoves where families could visit privately. The first floor lobby looked more like a hotel than a nursing home. Each wing had a sun room. There was a coffee shop. Residents got coffee for free and family members/visitors could have coffee and goodies for next to cheap (coffee was 25 cents a cup) For residents that were ambulatory and could manage, there was a large dining room on the first floor. Victorian furnishings, (a little too pink for me, but one of Ma's favorite colors), real linen tablecloths and napkins, real silverware, glasses and plates. There was also a beautiful chapel and residents would be escorted for religious services if they wished. Residents could join the choir. There was a cooking club, sewing club, billiards and a men's club and other activities. The day I had the grand tour, ladies were being escorted to the beauty parlor to have their hair done.  I saw lots of formal gowns and was told the facility was having a Prom. This place was perfect.

I received Ma's acceptance call, the day before the Court was to grant me the temporary guardian/conservator papers. Not only would the facility accept Ma, but when Dad's turn came around, there would be a place for him, too. After the court date with papers in hand, Himself and I stopped at the facility and began the paper work to have Ma transferred from the geriatric psych unit to her new home. What a relief!

With Ma "in", Himself and I joked we now had legacy when our turn came around.

Next week:  Medicare Hoops


  1. It sounds such a hill to climb in trying to find the right place, but I'm so pleased you have got through that and found somewhere that sounds perfect.

  2. It was perfect, Ann. You know what they say, if it's too good to be true...

  3. Oh CJ, I'm so glad you were able to find a place you feel good about for your Ma (and Dad). I'm sure it's not an easy process!

  4. Uh oh, I was going to say congrats, it sounds like a good ‘fit’ but your ominous comment makes me think this doesn’t end well.