Tips on choosing a long term care home

Are you choosing a nursing home for your loved one? Jane Meadus, lawyer and elder care advocate at Advocacy Centre for the Elderly has some tips for the search and what to do to ensure your loved one is getting the right care once they move in.

1. Do your research. If your province has a public reporting system, like Ontario, Meadus suggests that you read what is posted about the home you are considering. In Ontario that includes inspection reports going back more than five years. If inspection reports aren’t posted online, Meadus says to talk to residents or people who have family members on the floor.

2. Take the official tour and ask to see every unit. “I think that you want to really look to see if it's clean, does it smell, some of the intangibles like what's happening behind those closed doors is very difficult to watch out for, also watch out for secrecy, if you're told you can't see something, if you're told you can't be in a room for something, that would be something that would be a huge red flag for me.”

3. Ask questions. Ask things like: how many staff work in the home? What kind of programming do they have? Do they have an active residents council and family council? Do they have volunteers?

4. Once your family member moves in, visit her at different times of the day. “ You need to go in at the morning, at night, in the evening, make sure that they are getting the care, that it's not only during sort of the normal visiting hours after work where people are getting good care,” says Meadus. This will give families an idea of what staffing is like at different times of the day.

5. Keep notes. Meadus suggests having a notebook by the bed of your loved one, so when different family members go in they can keep a record of their observations. These notes can prove helpful for meetings with home administrators.