Trusted Care Part 8: How to Choose a Nursing Home - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Trusted Care Part 8: How to Choose a Nursing Home

Updated: Nov 26, 2007 11:10 PM CST

  It's one of the most difficult tasks you or a family member could face, but when it's time, you and your loved ones need the best and most accurate information possible to make the decision. How do you choose a nursing home? KTEN's Jocelyn Lockwood has tips.

  "We all are needed in taking care of the elderly in our communities; we need to work together, families, facility, staff and communities to make sure that we have places to take care of those who took care of us," said Tom Coble, Owner Elmbrook Management in Ardmore.

  When it's time, everyone is searching for top-of-the line care. But, how do you find it? 

  "The best thing a family can do when looking for a nursing facility is to go to the facility," Coble said.

  There is no substitute for getting a first-hand perspective.

  "I go back to the common sense smell test," said Anthony O'Hanlon, Attorney. "When you walk into a nursing home, does it smell good? Does it look good? Does it look clean? Are the people friendly? I think that's the number one thing you should do." 

  The next step.

  "Then what you've gotta go do is look at how has this home placed one on state investigations and state surveys. People can go to the state of Texas Web site, the DADS Web site, the Department of Aging and Disabilities Service, and they can actually look at the scores for any given nursing home in the state of Texas and figure out how they've done on all this stuff and how they rank compared to other nursing homes."

  But, be careful when looking at Texas ratings.

  "The state of Texas grades the nursing homes on a scale, I believe it's 13 to 100 for Medicaid and Medicare purposes, and the state average is 59," O'Hanlon said. "The score is not very high, but that's what the state average is right now." 

  For that reason, O'Hanlon says it's not a good measure.

  "If you've got 100 nursing homes that are all scored poorly then the average is going to be poor, but that doesn't mean that's what the average needs to be."

  "Certainly one does not want to base choosing a nursing home simply on a quality rating score," said Michelle Pierce, Former Managing Ombudsman for Grayson, Cooke and Fannin Counties. "The DADS Web site, because that information could be based on information from 12 to 15 months ago, so what was going on in that facility 12 to 15 months ago may not be going on now."

  In Oklahoma, nursing homes do not receive a score based on their inspection. Rather, they're tagged with a severity level based on an inspection, and all inspection results can be found online by going to the State Department of Health Web site.

  "You can search all the Web sites you want; the information may be accurate, it may be skewed, it may be unbalanced, but my suggestion is to just go to the facility and look around and start making your decision from that point," Coble said.

  The Medicare Compare Web site, linked to the State Department of Health site, allows you to view recent deficiencies cited during annual surveys and complaint inspections, as well as compare a specific nursing home against national standards. Other private sites, though, may not be as reliable.  

   If you contact an ombudsman in Texas you can pick up a packet with everything you need to know on how to choose a home, it even includes a checklist.  And, to help you out, we've created links on our Web site to any of the sites we've mentioned, as well as others, including inspection records for homes we've mentioned throughout our series.