You aren’t alone. This scenario is repeated thousands of times a day in hospitals all over our country. Family members are obliged to make a quick decisions about nursing home placement with few or no knowledge of the services needed. How are you supposed to strike a nursing home without knowing the first point about them? Here are five steps you can follow to make your search a little easier and ask the peace of mind that you’ve found a good place for your family member to stay.
Seems like a logical thing to do but believe it or not many people do not take the time to call on the question :’ Why is nursing home placement needed?’. It is important because their may be options available, other than nursing home, that your hospital social worker can refer to you. Quite often, hospital social workers are over-worked and do not completely research service options for all their patients. It is up to you as the patients advocate to understand the options available. By having a detailed discussion with the doctor and social worker you can get a better idea of your family members diagnostic needs and make an educated decision about the kind of service they require. Although they’re very busy, hospital staff is expected to work with you to make these decisions. It does not hurt to politely remind them that the final determination is yours if you think that as if you’re being pushed around.
When finding a nursing home it is important to understand what insurance your family member has and what that insurance covers. Note that not all nursing homes accept all types of insurance. You must know what types of coverages your family member has before you start your search. Knowing this will save you a great deal of time looking at nursing homes that will not accept your family members insurance in the former place.
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Medicare Part A-This covers short term and sub-acute skilled nursing care. Most of the time, the coverage is for up to 100 days based on the patients condition. There is normally a co-payment after 20 days which will be out of pocket or taken up by a medigap insurance.
Medicaid-Medicaid covers long term or custodial care. Medicaid is income related and the qualifications vary from state to state. Not all nursing homes accept medicaid so if it’s a medicad bed you need make sure you ask if one is available.
Private Insurances-These vary by contract and their coverages vary as well. By calling the 800 number on the reverse side of the insurance card you can get the coverage information. Remember not all nursing homes accept all private insurances so it is important to ask the admissions department if they accept that insurance.
Do not go into a nursing home without knowing if they accept your insurances. There is nothing more discouraging than touring a place only to discover they do not accept your families insurance. Checking about insurance before you go can save valuable time.
Talk with your other family members. Find out who’ll be visiting the nursing home and pick a place that is easier for folks to get to. I highlight the significance of the family visits in my article five ways to insure better care for your family. Don’t chose a place that will be hard for you or other members of your family to visit. You might have chosen the newest swankiest place but if no one can visit; your family member will not feel supported and may have a poor outcome.
Once you have a place where the patient can get regular visits and support from family, do an Internet search for nursing homes in that city. Most search engines will produce a list of area nursing homes including addresses and phone numbers. You can likewise use the nursing home compare feature on medicare.gov. There you can do a search of nurisng homes by zip code. The list generated by medicare.gov will also have recent inspections and ratings attached.
Ask for the Admissions Department-This is the department that will have all the answers you need. If they’re not available leave a voice mail or just call back later. Although many nursing homes cross train administrative staff to answer admission inquiries, they’re often not as knowledgeable and will refer you to the admission staff anyway.
Ask about Insurances-Make sure you ask specifically about your family members insurance. Share the information you learned about coverages. Make sure the nursing home takes that insurance before you go on.
Share briefly what diagnosis your family member has that requires nursing home care. At this point the Admissions Department will ask you a series of questions to better understand the case. Answer these questions as honestly and completely as you can. The more information the Admissions Department has the better they can help.
Once you determine that the nursing home can accept your family member for admission, set up a tour. Make sure you take all the information you have gathered in your previous steps with you for reference. I highly reccomend you tour a facility before you choose it. In a previous article 5 things to look for, I give you a sense of what to look for on tour to help pick the best possible place.