I need to find a nursing home for my father, where do I start?

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My Dad lives in his own home. It is my responsibility to place in him in a nursing home. I want to start looking now so everything is in place, he is 87 and starting to have serious dementia. Where do I start?

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ProPublica, an independent, non-profit news organization that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, has just launched a new website that allows you to search by state to find out which nursing homes have the highest number of deficiencies. You can search through thousands of nursing homes and find out the results of recent government inspections, nationwide. There is a list of the worst states, but most importantly if you are a family member wanting to find a good nursing home for your elder relative, you can search by state and see the reports for the nursing homes just in your state. You can also search by keyword, city or name of nursing home.

To reach the reporting tool itself, click here: http://projects.propublica.org/nursing-homes/

For tips on how best to use the above reporting tool, click this link: http://www.propublica.org/article/how-to-search-nursing-home-inspect
I googled A Place for Mom and someone called me the same day. She asked for info on my mom's health and capabilities to determine if she needed nursing care or asisted living. Then she got me in touch with a representative for my state and city and gave me the options available, provided names of contacts, addresses, and kept in touch by email and phone. And on the right side of this page, you can click on the blue "Find Housing and Care" and follow the directions. Good luck in your search.
There are several online tools you can use as well. Medicare.gov has a nursing home database called Nursing Home Compare. It includes quality measures, ownership info, and survey findings for the most recent inspections. You can also check with your area agency on aging (eldercare.gov to find your local office). They can assist with many aspects of finding the right care for your dad. Good luck!
Visit, visit, and visit some more. Find some you want to check out and visit them at
random times. Google and see if they have any rating online. If you visit at random times instead of just having a tour you might see something you would otherwise have missed. Visit at lunch, see how long they have to wait for meals and if the staff interacts with them, or just leaves them to their own devices.

I was fortunate enough to be able to delegate the tasks of phone calls and visits to a friend that is a nurse. I paid her for her time, but it was money well invested. She could do a much better job with her knowledge and expertise and she didn't have the emotional issues attached. I find that I get easily wrapped around the axle caring for my dad. I have found that I need to delegate (even if it means paying someone) when I can. It seems that most of the decisions I have to make have caught me offguard and time is always of the essence. I also asked everyone I know for referrals.
Susan, we found the nursing home that my mother-in-law had to go to for rehab, thru her insurance Kaiser. They had a list of places they recommended, and places that they had found unsuitable. When I brought up the name of a place near us, the lady from Kaiser shook her head and told us that Kaiser had pulled out of that nursing home because of poor conditions. Ask around to your friends too. Chances are one or more of the people you already know have a nursing home story.
There is no such thing as a good nursing home. Some are barely tolerable. But I'd suggest checking in with your local Elder Services first. There may be other options available -- special units in assisted living, day programs where he could spend his days supervised, in-home care, and the like.
I second many of the suggestions above especially visiting each facility once you have narrowed your list. As I started the search for a place for my Dad (90 yrs with a significant memory loss) to live last summer, I found a couple of additional people who may not come up as official experts, but they were quite helpful.

First, a friend who is a retired therapist and has worked in the community for a long time was invaluable in steering me clear of one facility. Others, later independently supported that advice. Next, an acquaintance who works for hospice was quite helpful. He visits every facility in town and knows how people are treated when family members are not present. I asked him, "if you were to go live in one of these facilities, which one would you choose?" He told me the places that were not necessarily the fanciest and newest, but instead, the places where residents take care of one another and where the staff is kind and caring. It turns out that we chose a different place than I originally expected because Dad did not need as high a level of care.

Another thing to consider is if the place you find can provide a "step up" to the next level of care. Dad has made friends where he is and they care about him. I am glad that it is likely he will be able to stay in the same place and get the care he needs for the rest of his life.

Finally, trust your gut. If a place does not feel right, even if you can't say why, skip it.

Good luck in your search.
I conducted much of what has already been suggested, I reviewed Social Worker referals, online reviews, A Place for Mom which was very valuable to me, but I cant emphasize visit, visit, observe, talk to residents and Staff and always VISIT at random days and hours...always! My 97 yr old Dad went to Nursing Home care 1st, 9 mos later my 89 yr old Mom needed more help and actually asked to move in with Dad. It was not nor is not been, but the around the clock extra help is needed. I'm their only living Child and I become too emotionally entangled between doing what Mom and Dad want and what they/we need. Think, pray, make a concious decision and trust your gut while not under stress.
My best wishes to you both.
Consider these suggestions on researching and choosing a nursing home. It’s an important task, so ask around and drop in on a few facilities.
Knowing how to approach a facility when you’re concerned about the care they’re providing is half the battle. Advocating for your loved one in a respectful and effective way can improve his care and open the door for communication.

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