Straight Talk about Skilled Nursing Facilities

Straight Talk about Skilled Nursing Facilities

Imagine that you find yourself in the hospital your doctor tells you that you will need to spend some time at a skilled nursing facility. A few hours later, a hospital social worker comes in to ask you which facility you prefer. What do you say? How do you choose a nursing facility? All you know is that you have no desire at all to go to a nursing home.
Does your mental picture of a nursing home involve a bunch of old people sitting around in wheelchairs begging for a glass of water while the smell of urine overpowers you? Do you believe that a nursing home is where you are put out to pasture? While this may have been the case in times past, the situation has changed dramatically. We have all heard more than our share of horror stories, but I hope that you will come to understand that skilled nursing facilities are no longer the scary places they once were.
An informed view of skilled nursing facilities will help to assuage fears and will help you to make better decisions for future needs. Few of us think that we will ever need that level of care, but a solid plan of action will pay great dividends in the event you would need it. We will first discuss what "skilled nursing" entails, and then provide suggestions on how to choose a skilled nursing facility.
Skilled nursing facilities are quickly becoming what hospitals were twenty years ago. The days of spending months in the hospital are long gone for most people. Instead, skilled nursing facilities now care for those who need more than just a few days of care. These facilities can provide care that used to only be available in the hospital. Treatments including wound care and IV therapy are now provided in settings other than hospitals.
Skilled nursing facilities now provide extensive rehabilitation programs so this is where most hospitals send their patients to regain strength and endurance after an extended illness or injury. These facilities either have their own therapy departments or contract with outside agencies to provide physical, occupational, speech, or respiratory therapy. While many nursing home residents do not like the idea of living in such a facility, they do enjoy completing the therapy-knowing that if they regain their strength, many of them will be able to return to an independent lifestyle. For example, after a leg injury, standing up from a chair without arms can be a major undertaking, or trying to manipulate a walker and carry a cup of coffee to the table at the same time can prove to be a real problem. Many facilities in the area have "transitional apartments" that allow their residents to practice in a home-like setting. The therapy will help to overcome the challenges involved with living at home.
More than twenty skilled nursing facilities are located within the footprint of the Herald-Mail, so how do you pick one? You should start off with your top three preferred facilities just in case your first choice is full. Many factors affect the decision of which facility to choose. Some of those factors include proximity to loved ones, bed availability, reputation of the facility, "personality" of the facility, and cost. The most important factor though is the quality of the nursing and therapy staff. If the staff enjoys their jobs and truly cares for the residents, you know that you will feel comfortable there. In that case, an older building or bland food may not seem as important as the quality of care. Try to tour the facilities that you are considering, and talk with your friends or clergy who have had experiences with these facilities. Make sure that the "personality" of the facility matches the way that you like to live. If you like a country setting, choose one with a country feel, if you prefer a large institutional environment, choose one of the larger facilities.
If you have any more specific questions, you can contact me directly by calling 240-420-4119.
Pete McMillin is the Manager of Marketing and Sales for Ravenwood Lutheran Village and The Village at Robinwood.