How do I vet a rest home by remote?
August 23, 2010 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I have to put my mother into a care facility (and wow, they're expensive!). How do I thoroughly check out whether or not one will be good for her before allowing my mother anywhere near the place? I live about 2 hours away and plan to check it out but want to do as much legwork as I can beforehand. Thanks for the help.
posted by miss lynnster to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I am in a similar situation; so far all I have done is made phone calls and got their brochures and whatnot and asked enough questions about cost and what type of care is available to eliminate some. My father's current health care providers have all separately suggested that when visiting places, don't make an appointment, just show up, which is not really convenient if you want to plan things out.

Without knowing any details about your situation, I was surprised to find out that while my father has an extended care insurance policy that will cover some of the cost, it takes 90 days from when we alerted the insurance company to when they actually start paying any portion of a bill.

If you mother lives someplace that can hook her up with palliative care, that has been a huge help. They have assigned my father a social worker and are allowing him to go into respite care at a hospice for five days while I am there to check out nursing homes, and after that, once he is in a care facility, they will still send a nurse over several times a week to monitor his health and keep an eye on him.

I hope it works out for you and your mother.
posted by katinka-katinka at 2:27 PM on August 23, 2010

Consider moving her to a facility in your area, unless there is some concrete benefit to having her be two hours away. I arranged for a place local to my father, thinking that his friends would visit more often than I could, but they didn't, and I could have kept a closer eye had he been nearer to me.
posted by sageleaf at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2010

See if the community has a commission on aging, or a Senior Center that might have a geriatric social worker on staff. Chances are such a person would have clients in some of the facilities, and would be in position to answer your questions and give you feedback.

Best wishes- it's not easy to become the caretaker and decision-maker for your parent(s). I've recently been put into that role also.

Or, maybe you could have her move to a Granny Pod?
posted by Steve3 at 2:35 PM on August 23, 2010

Response by poster: I have to keep her in San Diego near her doctor. I have siblings there, she's currently living with one and wants to move to a home to get away from her... they're like oil and water.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:45 PM on August 23, 2010

Nthing the benefits of having her closer to you. My father had to go into a facility, which required my best friend and I to clear out his apartment and move him the two hours to be near me, but when he needed something extra or there was a problem with a room-mate, etc, I was glad to be close by and able to handle it the same day.

I don't know that his facility was the best -- it was the only one I visited -- but it was clean, full of sunlight, and smelled fine -- and every member of the staff was smiling & seemed happy. Much, much better than the cardiac rehab he'd been in previously. It was about $2500 a month, his pension just covered it.
posted by MeiraV at 2:53 PM on August 23, 2010

I found out from my friend in the city, who is a nurse's aide, that the nursing home in my little hometown 1 hour away is the one in the area coveted by nursing staff. Everyone in this half of the state wants to work there because it is so nice. He wants to work there. I had no idea.

So maybe drop in to a nursing home near you and ask any staff you can catch if they have heard through the grapevine of any jewels near where your mom lives? What have they heard?
posted by cda at 3:34 PM on August 23, 2010

Response by poster: I know you guys don't know this but I gave up a decade of my life to focus on taking care of my mom already... she has five kids and I can't do it by myself ever again. That responsibility was very directly a good part of why I never got married or had kids... I had nothing left for myself. So now I'm helping to find her a place, and I'll go down to visit her and I'll continue to talk to her (up to five times a day) on the phone, but it's time for other people to be there at the drop of a hat. I will NOT carry all of the burden on my shoulders ever again. If I moved her here, she would take over my life again.

I am there ASAP if there is an emergency, but I was the only person around for her day to day dramas through my late 20s and 30s already. It's mandatory that I set up boundaries and have a life now.

She has four other children, not just me. Not my fault if people don't get along or are selfish... they need to step up.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:50 PM on August 23, 2010

Miss Lynnster, I had a similar experience (single child, mom lived several hours away). I only have the one data point, but here is what I found:

1. Most (all?) states have an agency that inspects and regulates nursing homes. In my mom's state, the web site was a really useful resource to get started.

2. I asked around in my mom's network of friends for recommendations, which pretty quickly allowed me to develop a short list.

3. I did a personal tour of all of the homes on my short list with one of my mom's (elderly) friends, who gave me a lot of points to think about as we toured.

4. I opted to leave my mom where she was instead of moving her. In hind sight, that was exactly the right thing to do; my mom's local network of friends and acquaintances really stepped up.

5. I was lucky to get my first choice; I was told that the best homes will tend to be full or have a waiting list.

6. Not related to choosing, but one more point. I started to publish an informal email/snail-mail newsletter on my mom's behalf and sending it out once a week. My situation was a little different, my mom was recovering from a serious injury, and eventually recovered enough to leave the home, so there was always something to write about. However it reminded people she was there, and people would then send her cards or little gifts or drop by to visit.

Good luck!
posted by kovacs at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: California Registry.

They help seniors and their family members find placement in good care facilities within California. They ask all the right questions, and can answer your toughest questions, and offer a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. My mother and my best friend were counselors there years ago, and I worked there for a short time as well. They really do a great job.
posted by Koko at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sadly, my mom really has no friends. There's a reason she's alone at this point in her life. She's been living with my sister for 2 years but they are like oil and water and my sister is charging my mother 1,100 to live with her. So my sister doesn't want to lose that money but my mother is at the point where she'd rather kill herself than live with my sister. Soooo, it's rough.

I'll look at the links. Thank you all for your help.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2010

This sounds a bit odd, but if you can find a way to talk to paramedics in your mom's area they frequently have quite a bit of inside information on care facilities. Sometimes they're responding to emergencies and sometimes they're transporting patients for various reasons, so they see a lot. Notably, they will know exactly which places to avoid, as the paramedics I've known tend to get extremely angry when say, a facility gets around to calling them about a broken bone twelve hours after it happened.

Seriously, there was nothing my ex-boyfriend loved more than answering questions about his job. I doubt very much that paramedics would mind you asking if you happened to see them out in public on a break.
posted by corey flood at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Talk to the Ombudsman. This is a 3rd party who can speak on behalf of the resident. The resident can complain to the Ombudsman, & the Ombudsman follows up with administration. in addition, they do yearly audits/walk throughs. They tend to have a lot of info about the area facilities. You can locate them through The Area Agency on Aging in your area. good luck.
posted by UltraD at 10:40 AM on August 24, 2010

A few things:

I would be wary of the Medicare rankings website. I look up a nursing home I know a great deal about, and I know for a fact that they haven't had a health violation in some 10 odd years - and yet their rating on the site was 2/5 stars. So I have no idea where they get their stats, but I'm pretty dubious.

Visit and talk to the other residents.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:11 PM on August 24, 2010

There's a National Association of Geriatric Care Managers. Have you tried calling one of their members?
posted by jasper411 at 12:42 PM on August 24, 2010

Response by poster: The California Registry people were very nice. I'm going to check out the places they referred later in the week. Thanks!!!
posted by miss lynnster at 6:48 PM on August 24, 2010

Response by poster: I ended up using and found a fabulous place for her. I highly recommend them, they really helped me make a horrible situation bearable.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:26 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

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