People often ask us, “What do I need to think about when I make the decision to put my grandmother or my grandfather in a nursing home?” Nursing homes operate similarly to insurance companies in that for them it’s all about the bottom line. Can they make a profit? Can they make a little bit more money by providing a little less care for your grandmother or grandfather? There are some nursing homes out there that are very good and very conscious of their patients’ needs; there are others that are only concerned about making the almighty dollar.

I encourage anyone who is thinking about putting a relative or a friend into a nursing home to please go to the Medicare website. They have a nursing home compare section there that will allow you to see in your area which nursing homes are good and which ones are sub-par. Even in our area of Hagerstown, Maryland, there are nursing homes that are very high quality as rated by Medicare. Medicare does surveys at multiple times of the year to evaluate whether these nursing homes are good. On the other hand, people in the area may not know that there are nursing homes which are very poor in quality, and it could be extraordinarily dangerous for you to put your grandmother, your grandfather or a friend into that nursing home.

When thinking about how to evaluate a nursing home – beyond going to a Medicare website to see how they rate – we would encourage you to visit the nursing home multiple times at different times of the day so that you can get a picture for yourself as to what type of care is being provided. If that nursing home knows that you are going to be there at the same time every day, they will make sure that you see the best picture. However, if you change it up and vary when you go, you will be able to get a realistic picture of what’s going on. You will be able to see how much staffing is provided, whether your loved one has been properly fed, whether they have been changed, or if they have been left sitting there all day without having proper treatment. That is the best advice on how to make sure your loved one is being properly cared for.