When a life-long companions health requires for them to be placed in a nursing home, professionally known as a skilled nursing care center, there may be much stress and fear of the unknown associated with the decision for both of you. Sometimes there be anger and guilt, as well. Allow yourself some bad days; it’s to be expected.
How to find a nursing home in your area?
The first place to begin is by asking friends and relatives if they can refer a nursing home to you. Next, ask your family physician whether he provides care to residents at any of the local nursing homes this way your husband can continue seeing him once he is admitted to the nursing home. Thirdly, you can use the eldercare locator.
What do I need to know when choosing a nursing home?
Here are some of the questions you want answered before making a decision:
- Will I be treated respectfully?
- Will I be able to have visiting early in the morning or late at night?
- Will the nursing home ensure that my visitors have privacy when they visit?
- Can I bring along a pet or can a pet visit?
- Would I be able to leave the facility for a day or two or longer, as needed?
- Can I choose my bedtime and mealtime preferences?
- Will transportation be arranged for community events?
- Can I decorate my room?
What are the common problems to look out for in nursing homes?
- Family visit restrictions. Legally, family members may visit at any time of day or night.
- Staff that determines the care of the resident. The resident and his family have a right to participate in the decision making process.
- Worker-centered care. Many times nursing staff will restrain a resident or administer mood drugs for the convenience of the nursing home staff, not the resident. Restraints are to be used as a last resort only and mood drugs can only be administered for the treatment of specific conditions. What you’re looking for is patient-centered care.
- ‘Responsible party’ at Admission. The nursing Home Reform Law prohibits a nursing home from forcing a family member to become financially responsible for long-term care. Only the resident can be liable. Many times, a nursing home will give the applicant a form to fill out, asking them to claim responsibility. Many unsuspecting applicants claim responsibility, thinking they are having their name on file as an emergency contact. Do NOT accept responsibility and you may want to consider other nursing home options.
Does Medicaid pay for nursing home care?
Yes, Institutional Medicaid pays for nursing home care. Be aware that nursing homes rely on about half of their cost to be covered by Medicaid and may not offer the same excellent service to their Medicaid residents as the non-Medicaid residents. This is discrimination and is illegal.
How do I go about the application process?
The application process can be very tedious and requires extensive Medicaid know-how. Medicaid requires five years of financial documentation prior to application, and many have been found ineligible for ‘little’ errors that could easily have been avoided. One example is the ‘spend-down’ process where the applicant will spend down their asset until they are below the asset threshold. This can be tricky and sometimes requires the expert advice and counseling of a Medicaid planning company like Senior Planning Services.
What happens to our house once my spouse is admitted to a nursing home?
If the spouse lives in community, meaning he or she is not in a nursing home or assisted living facility and is residing at home, he or she gets to keep the primary residence. The name on the deed will need to be changed or, alternatively, remove the name of the Medicaid applicant.
It is important to be highly informed on all levels when entrusting the care of a loved one to a nursing home. There are many options out there, as well as professional help that can guide you along this difficult but necessary process.