Have you and your family noticed that your loved ones may need to move into a board and care or skilled nursing home soon? Have you, your loved ones and your family had the difficult conversation about deciding to move your loved ones into a facility? If you, your family and your loved ones are ready to move forward, what do you do next? In fact, how do you choose the right one? Will you face problems? How do you make sure that the needs of your loved ones will be met by the facility, both now and in the future?

Finding a facility that can meet the health care needs of your loved ones is only the beginning. As you do your research you will find that there are additional factors to consider that you may not have even thought of yet. We would like to share our 12 Point Checklist for you to read, review and use in your research as you evaluate your selections.

1. Health care services provided by the facility. An interesting fact that many people do not know is that not all long-term care facilities provide the same health care services. Begin by finding out and making a list of health care services your loved ones need. If you are unsure you may be able to hire a care manager who specializes in medical issues to assist. You can then use this list to narrow down your choices as you look for the best facility for your loved ones.

2. Location. Do your loved ones want to remain in the community where they lived throughout their lives? If they do, then consider facilities in their community, but bear in mind the best care may be a bit out of the area. It is better to discuss the possibility.

3. Levels of care. Once your loved one moves into their new facility, if their condition declines or improves, can they stay in the facility? Be sure to know the answer now, so that you can prevent a need for a move later on.

4. Medication management. Not all long term care placements include medication management as part of their services. Be sure to ask if medication management is included or if it is an additional service.

5. Program and engagement. Are you aware that loneliness and isolation are a leading cause of death for Older Americans? Check in on the facility programs to make sure there are opportunities for your loved ones to be active, engaged and motivated to leave their room.

6. Communication plan with family and others. How does the facility keep you informed on what your loved ones need? Will the facility communicate with you or can the facility communicate with multiple family members, as well as, the agent(s) under the durable powers of attorney of your loved ones?

7. Internet communication plan. Does the facility have the internet so that you are able to connect with your loved ones? There are more ways than ever to be connected, from FaceTime to Skype to Messenger, to name a few. Check to see if the facility has a plan in place to ensure you can connect with your loved ones once they become residents and if a face to face platform is available.

8. State licensing. Be absolutely sure to look into the facility’s licensing. Is it up-to-date? How current is the latest inspection? Have there been any significant issues? Are there more than average customer complaints? How were challenges addressed?

9. Disaster management, Covid-19 updates and more. Every facility you visit should have a plan for how it will manage disaster. Everything from viruses to natural disasters to power outages to earthquakes in California, you need to find out and discuss what to expect and the facility’s disaster management plan for handling these issues before signing the contract.

10. Go online and read reviews and ask for opinions. Before you visit, read the facility’s online reviews. When you visit, if possible, ask residents their opinions of the facility. Ask in the community about the facility and enlist the help of family and friends in this research. If you are unsure how to assess licensing status and other issues, please feel free to ask us for help.

11. Look into staffing, turnover and health care provider permissions. You should research and learn about the people working in the facility. Do they appear cheerful? Caring? Busy? If possible, find out what the staff turnover rate is. Also, if your loved ones have a current health care provider, find out whether he or she will be able to enter the facility to treat your loved ones.

12. Finances. What financial programs does the facility you are visiting accept? Often programs such as Medicaid (Medi-Cal) and long-term care insurance can help offset the high cost of care. Ask now if these payment options are accepted.

These points are just the beginning of your investigation that you will want to complete before placing your loved ones in a long-term care facility of any kind. Be sure you personally visit any potential nursing home, both a scheduled and unscheduled visit.

We do encourage you to discuss your potential choices, as well as your goals, with your California elder law attorney. Your attorney can help guide you in this decision so your loved ones can find and access good long-term care. Do not hesitate to contact us now, or at any time in the future about any of these concerns.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here for you and your loved ones. Please call us to schedule a meeting time.