7 Key Traits of a Strong Skilled Nursing Program

Entrusting your parent or loved one into the care of others is a big decision. It’s important to do proper research into your options and review more than one skilled nursing program. Keep these 7 key traits in mind while you evaluate different retirement communities and nursing facilities to find the best home for your loved one.

1. The community is clean, secure and well maintained.

Environment and surroundings play crucial roles in the fulfillment we find in our lives, and the same holds true even in our later years. If the skilled nursing program you’re considering for your loved one is in a community with visible signs of disrepair and clutter, and if there are offensive odors in common areas or residents’ rooms, then these signs are red flags. The community and grounds should be well kept and regularly cleaned.

You should also confirm with the program director that the entrances, exits and parking lots are all monitored, well-lit and secure. Be sure to inquire about security patrols, and whether safety inspections are done regularly and meet with favorable results.

2. Residents are treated with respect and dignity.

It should go without saying, but elders deserve the same respect and dignity, if not more, than we expect ourselves. A quality skilled nursing program is committed to care that is truly patient-centered. This is care that respects residents’ preferences, that allows them to structure their own schedule, and that always keeps in mind their desire to live their lives on their own terms.

3. Residents have a sense of purpose in their day-to-day.

In a long-term care or skilled nursing facility, it can be easy for residents’ spirits to run low if they aren’t encouraged and given opportunities to find a sense of purpose in their day-to-day lives.

Look for communities and programs with enriching activities available every day - something more than just putting on a movie in the common area. If you have the opportunity to observe an activity, watch the way the residents and the staff interact to be sure that everyone is engaged.

4. The staff is happy.

During a tour, pay attention to the mood of the staff members. Do they seem tired and overworked? If so, they could be under-attentive in their care of residents. When it comes to staff-to-resident ratio, Kiplinger states that there should be “no less than 1 to 15 for assisted living and 1 to 8 for memory care.” If the staff seems cheerful and caring, making time to get to know residents and their families, then they’re likely happy in their work, and there’s a good chance there are enough staff members to accommodate all the residents in the community.

5. Meals are nutritious and tasty.

When you schedule a tour of the community, ask if you can have a meal there. Find out if residents have the option to sit together in a dining room, or dine in their rooms. Take note of the menu options and whether they’re chosen with good nutrition in mind. Try a few dishes to make sure that what they’re serving is appetizing and tasty.

6. Medical services are provided onsite.

Moving out of bed, into and out of a transport, across a medical campus and back again can take a lot out of someone who isn’t as mobile as he or she once was. When a skilled nursing community offers medical services onsite, residents can get their regular rounds, check-ups and questions answered without having to expend precious energy that’s better saved for feeling their best.

Additionally, if there should be an emergency, having medical care immediately available can help ease your mind and ensure that your loved one’s needs won’t go unnoticed.

7. The program is part of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

As your senior loved one is taken care of during this period of life, his or her healthcare needs are likely to change. A skilled nursing program that’s part of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), like the program at Marquette, will allow your loved one to receive proper care for his or her changing needs without being uprooted.

These types of innovative communities provide residences and an attentive staff that take into account the progression of needs as seniors age, including loss of mobility, memory and/or cognition, and the need for round-the-clock medical care.

Making this decision for your parent or loved one isn’t easy. But you’re taking the right first step by identifying the indicators of a high-quality skilled nursing program. Keep this list with you while you research online, call to make inquiries and during your tour of the community.

If you’re ready to find out more about Marquette’s skilled nursing program, click here to fill out our contact form and we’ll reach out to set up a time to talk.