Do your research before selecting nursing home

Do you know what a nursing home is? A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, is a place for people who don’t need to be in a hospital but no longer can be cared for at home. This can include people with critical injuries or serious illnesses, or those needing care after surgery.

Most nursing homes have aides and skilled nurses on hand 24 hours a day. Boulder City Hospital has its own 47-bed skilled nursing/long-term care unit. For more information, visit www.bchcares.org or call 702-293-4111.

Choosing a home

If you need to go to a nursing home after a hospital stay, the hospital staff can help you find one that will provide the kind of care that’s best for you. If you are looking for a nursing home, ask your doctor’s office for some recommendations. Once you know what choices you have, it’s a good idea to:

Consider. What is important to you? Do you need nursing care, meals, physical therapy, a religious connection, hospice care, or special care units for dementia patients? Do you want a place close to family and friends so they can visit easily?

Ask. Talk with friends, relatives, social workers and religious groups to find out what places they suggest. Check with health care providers about which nursing homes they feel provide good care. Use their suggestions to make a list of homes that offer the types of services you want.

Call. Get in touch with each place on your list. Ask questions about how many people live there and what it costs. Find out about waiting lists.

Visit. The Medicare nursing home checklist has some good ideas to consider when visiting. For example, look for Medicare and Medicaid certification, disabled access, residents who look well cared for and warm interaction between staff and residents.

Talk. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Visit again. Try another day of the week or time of day so you will meet other staff members and see different activities.

Understand. Once you select a nursing home, carefully read the contract. Ask about anything you don’t understand. Ask a good friend or family member to read over the contract before you sign it.

Home standards

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires each state to inspect any nursing home that gets money from the government. Homes that don’t pass inspection are not certified. Ask to see the current inspection report and certification of any nursing home you are considering. Visit www.medicare.gov for more information.

Nursing home costs

It’s important to check with Medicare, Medicaid and any private insurance provider you have to find out their current rules about covering the costs of long-term care. You can pay for nursing home care in several ways. Here are some examples.

Medicare. For someone who needs special care, Medicare will cover part of the cost in a skilled nursing home approved by Medicare. Check with Medicare for details.

Medicaid. Medicaid is a state/federal program that provides health benefits to some people with low incomes. Contact your county family services department to see if you qualify.

Private pay. Some people pay for long-term care with their own savings for as long as possible. When that is no longer possible, they may apply for help from Medicaid.

If you think you may need to apply for Medicaid at some point, make sure the nursing home you’re interested in accepts Medicaid payments.

Long-term care insurance. Some people buy private long-term care insurance. It can pay part of the costs for a nursing home or other long-term care for the length of time stated in your policy. This type of insurance is sold by many different companies and benefits vary widely. Look carefully at several policies before making a choice.

When thinking about nursing home costs, keep in mind that you can have extra out-of-pocket charges for some supplies or personal care such as hair appointments, laundry and services that are outside routine care.

The above information was provided by the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health. For more information, visit www.nia.nih.gov.

To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.

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