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Nursing Home 101

How To Maximize A Stay In A Nursing Home

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In order to maximize your stay in a nursing home:

  • Personalize your room to the extent that you can to make yourself feel comfortable and at home.
  • If you have a roommate and the two of you don't get along, request a change.
  • Be an active participant in your care. 
    • Speak up about your needs and when you think you are not being treated well. 
    • Choose a family member or friend to act as a patient advocate to talk with the nursing home administration on your behalf when you aren't feeling well or if you are not up for speaking up for yourself. Remind that person that honey works better than vinegar - at least in most instances. Hopefully the person will know when it is necessary to push harder.
  • Keep in mind that federal and state laws give all residents of a nursing home the right to dignity, choice, quality services and activities and to self-determination. Bottom line: you have the right to choose the care and treatment you receive - and to refuse any care and treatment.
  • Try to resolve problems through discussion. Since there is strength in numbers:
    • It may help to get other residents of the nursing home to approach the home administrator together to request a change. 
    • Consider joining together to create a Resident Council. You can find information about Resident Councils at offsite link, click on Residents. 
  • If there are problems that are not resolved through discussion:
    • Contact your state's Ombudsman. 
      • Part of his or her job is to help people in nursing homes.
      • You can locate your state's Ombudsman through offsite link or the Eldercare Locator at www.EldercareLocator.go offsite linkv or by calling 800.677.1116.
      • Contact other state agencies which help people in a nursing home. You can locate the agencies through offsite linkClick on Resident, then Assisted Living, , then Getting Help
    • If there is abuse, neglect or exploitation, contact your county's Adult Protective Services office.
If problems are not resolved, and if the subjects are important to you, consider changing nursing homes.

Legal Remedies: In addition to seeking the help of your state Ombudsman, Congress has enacted federal legislation to raise the national standards of nursing homes. The Act gives residents certain enforceable rights, among which are the rights to dignity, choice, self-determination, and quality services and activities.

NOTE: If Medicare pays for your stay in a nursing home: You can leave the facility to attend a holiday celebration without losing your Medicare coverage. Under the Medicare Policy Manual, a short leave of absence to attend a religious service, holiday meal, family occasion or a trial home visit is not, by itself, evidence that you no longer need to be in a skilled nursing facility.

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