10 Tips for Choosing the Right Skilled Nursing Center


Make informed decisions for your family by choosing a care center that’s right for you.

Skilled nursing differs from senior housing in that skilled nursing centers provide a high level of nursing care and rehabilitative therapy when routines of daily living become challenging due to health issues. The term “nursing home” can carry a negative connotation for most people, but care centers are an important part of the continuum of senior living. It should be noted, too, that a care center is not the only option. Depending on an individual’s needs, there are home care options such as Wesley Homes Home Health to help with shopping, medication, doctor’s visits and more.

There are many misconceptions about skilled nursing centers. Many cultures consider it the adult children’s responsibility to provide direct care for their elders. In today’s world, families are smaller and often live further apart. Men and women both work, and people live longer with managed chronic illnesses. Care centers are not for people who don’t care about their family member. On the contrary, skilled nursing can be the best way to ensure a family member is getting the assistance needed with expert around-the-clock care.

Considering skilled nursing care is not an easy decision for most families, it’s not uncommon for families to experience stress, sadness, frustration or guilt. The key is knowing how to make an informed decision based on the needs of the family. Here are ten tips on what to consider when looking at skilled nursing facilities.

  • Tour the Care Center
    This is perhaps the most useful, if not the most important, way of narrowing down which place is going to be the best fit for the family. It can be helpful to try to schedule a tour during an activity, and remember to ask questions.
  • Look for Life Enriching Activities
    Engaging in regular activities is important at any stage of life. Ask what kinds of activities and events the care center has that keep people mentally and socially engaged. How often do they do outdoor activities? Can family members join in the activities?
  • Meet the Staff
    It can be beneficial to see the staff in action to determine if they are friendly and treat residents with care and dignity. Meet the staff managers to get a better feel for what the team’s goals are in their care practices.
  • Check for Cleanliness
    Pay attention to the level of cleanliness in the building, and if necessary, ask how often rooms are cleaned. Get specifics on the frequency of laundry care, maintenance and other upkeep.
  • Consider the Amenities and Layout
    Some care centers take a traditionally medical approach to their design; others choose a more homey approach in terms of decor. Which design is best is more a matter of personal taste. Also consider whether a care center has private and/or semi-private rooms. Though a private room may be preferable, cost and care center location can be reasons for choosing a semi-private room, particularly if the center has a robust life enrichment program. When touring, ask to visit some of the outdoor areas, too. Ask about amenities, such as internet, television and recreational areas.
  • Ask About Food & Meals
    What are the meal plans? Is there a dietician on staff? Can the staff handle special dietary needs? Is there a dining room? Can residents dine in their rooms if they want? Can family bring food?
  • Express Your Needs
    Be sure to communicate care needs to see how and if they can be met. How many people will be involved in the care? How will the care plan be developed?
  • Licensing Requirements
    Does the skilled nursing center have its state licensing and certifications?
  • Consider the Location
    This may be one of the first things people consider when they start looking at care centers. What’s the balance between the convenience of the location versus the quality of the care center?
  • Ask About the Care Services
    Ask about their care goals and methodology. Some health centers will have a varied interdisciplinary team that may include dieticians, occupational or physical therapists, activities coordinators and more. Aside from maintaining and improving their physical health, what is the team doing to enrich residents’ lives and keep them mentally and physically active?

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Contact us today to tour our new Lea Hill Rehabilitation & Care Center in Auburn or the Des Moines Rehabilitation & Health Center.