Are you concerned that you may need to move your loved ones into a nursing home? Frankly, there is nothing more difficult than deciding to move loved ones into a long-term care facility. How do you choose the right one? What are the challenges in choosing? How can you be sure that the needs of your loved ones, both now and in the future, can be met by the facility?

Finding a facility that can meet the health care needs of your loved ones, is only the beginning. As your search continues there may be additional factors that you will have to consider. We would like to share our 7 Point Nursing Home Checklist that you may want to review and use in your research as you evaluate your nursing home selections.

1. Find out about the health care services provided by the facility. Begin by finding out what health care services your loved ones need. Using this list you can determine if the facility is a fit for your loved ones. In addition, find out if your loved ones were to decline or improve, can they stay in the facility, knowing this now can prevent a need for a move later on. Finally, what payment programs does the facility accept? Is it Medicaid and/or long-term care insurance, be sure to ask early in your evaluation process if these payment options are accepted.

2. Ask questions about medication management, programs to involve your loved ones and opportunities for your loved ones to be engaged in different activities. Verify that medication management is included or if it is an additional service. Make sure there are opportunities for your loved ones to be involved in activities, outings, celebrations and other ways to keep elders from being lonely and isolated.

3. External and internal communication plan. How will the facility keep you informed about the needs of your loved ones? Will the facility communicate with you or can the facility communicate with multiple family members, as well as the agent(s) under the durable powers of attorney for your loved ones.? Will your loved ones be able to communicate via FaceTime, Skype, Messenger or other connections? Is there a plan that you can review?

4. State licensing, Covid-19 updates and disaster management. Be sure to look into the facility’s licensing. Is it up-to-date? Have there been significant issues? How were they addressed if there were challenges? Is there a plan for managing disasters, for instance, anything from viruses to natural disasters to power outages to storms? You need to know what to expect and how the facility handles any and all disasters before you sign a contract.

5. Read reviews and ask for opinions from your loved ones, family and friends. Be sure to research and read reviews online about the facility before you visit. Ask family and friends for their opinions. Be sure to find out if your loved ones want to stay in the community where they have always lived. If they do, then the location of the facility is crucial!

6. Staffing, turnover, and health care provider permissions. Do not hesitate to learn about the people operating the facility by meeting and talking to everyone. Does the staff appear happy? Caring? Busy? What is staff turnover like? Be sure to ask, if your loved ones have a current health care provider, will he or she be able to enter into the facility to treat your loved ones?

One final thought, do not hesitate to schedule a tour to visit the facility you are looking into for your loved ones. Also, consider an unscheduled visit so that you can evaluate the facility without it having time to prepare for your arrival.

The above points are just the start to the investigation you need to complete before placing your loved ones in a long-term care facility of any kind. We encourage you to discuss your potential choices, as well as your goals, with your Wisconsin elder law attorney. Your attorney can help guide you in this decision so your loved ones can find and access good long-term care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum today.