Do you have loved ones, who still live in their own home? Have they been able to stay active in their community and take care of themselves? However, are you beginning to see signs that they may be having health issues that impact their ability to care for themselves and their home? In fact, do you think your loved ones may need to move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home soon? We understand that the decision to move your loved ones into a long-term care facility may be one of the most difficult decisions you and your family will ever make. With that the decision needing to be made, how do you choose the right facility? Will there be challenges that you and your loved ones face in the decision? Is it possible to plan ahead to make sure that the needs of your loved ones, both now and in the future, can be met by the facility you choose?

Your search will begin with finding a facility that can meet the health care needs of your loved ones. There will then be a variety of items to consider that you may not have even thought about. We would like to share with you and your loved ones an 8 Point Nursing Home Checklist to review and use in your research for the right facility.

1. First, find out all the health care services your loved ones need and the finances. This will allow you to determine if the facility is a fit for your loved ones. You need to know all the health care services offered by the facility, because not all long-term care facilities provide the same health care services. As far as paying for the facility, does the facility accept programs such as Medicaid and long-term care insurance that can help offset the high cost of care?

2. Location may be very important to your loved ones. Why? Because your loved ones may want to stay in the community where they lived throughout their lives. They will want to make it easy for their friends and family to visit.

3. Are there additional levels of care? If your loved ones decline or improve, will they be able stay in the facility? By knowing now you may prevent a need for a move later on. Also, if your loved ones need assistance with managing and supervising their medications, is that included or is it an additional service and an additional cost?

4. Find out about all the programs and activities offered and how they encourage participation by the residents. Unfortunately, loneliness and isolation are often a leading cause of death for Older Americans. The programs, activities, celebrations and opportunities for your loved ones to be engaged should encourage your loved ones to get involved.

5. Communication plan for you and your family and internet access. How will the facility communicate with you, especially if there is something needed by your loved ones? Will the facility communicate with multiple family members? Will they communicate with the agent(s) for the loved ones’ durable powers of attorney? Is there internet access provided? Will you and your family be able to connect with your loved ones? For instance, will you be able to use FaceTime or Skype or Messenger, to name just a few? Be sure the facility has a communication plan that enables you to connect with your loved ones once they become residents.

6. Check out the licensing by the state that the facility is in and ask to see the disaster management plan. Ask to look at the facility’s state license and make sure it is up-to-date. In addition, find out if there have been any significant issues. If there were challenges, how were they addressed? All facilities should have a plan for how they will manage disasters. Disasters can be anything from viruses (like Covid-19) to natural disasters to power outages to hurricanes and more. Before signing any contract, you need to discuss and know what to expect if there are any disasters and the plan the facility has for handling these issues.

7. Research and read reviews and ask friends, community professionals and the physicians caring for your loved ones for their opinion about the facility. Before you visit, research the facility and read online reviews. When visiting the facility, if you can, ask residents what they think of the facility. Take time to meet and talk to the staff and people working in the facility. Does the staff seem happy? Involved? Busy? Engaged with the residents? If your loved ones have a current health care provider, be sure they will be able to enter into the facility to treat your loved ones.

8. Be sure to visit the facility in person, taking your loved ones with you, if possible. You will want to schedule a tour, but also consider an unscheduled tour so that you can evaluate the facility without it having time to prepare for your arrival.

Before you and your loved ones decide on any long-term care facility, you will want to begin researching and studying long-term care facilities. We strongly recommend that you discuss your potential choices, as well as your goals, with your Florida elder law attorney. Your attorney can help guide you in this very important decision so your loved ones can find and access good long-term care.

Planning for the future is critical to ensure that your goals for the end of life are achieved. We know this article may raise more questions that it answers. We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering.