Today I visited another small nursing home. This one is actually made of several cottages with 20 residents in each. Each cottage is divided into two wings with 2 kitchens, two television rooms, and ten private rooms off the center living room/dining room area.
The model for this nursing home is that of a large family home where residents have their own access to the kitchen and other sections and their own private rooms. The CNAs/aides are like family members who are trained in safe food handling, cooking, housekeeping, home maintenance, and activities. There are 5 CNAs plus one LPN per cottage during the daytime and 4 CNAs in the evening along with one LPN.
The CNAs are considered to be like home health aides who help the residents in multiple tasks. The object is to keep the residents as independent as possible. Studies of this type of nursing home have demonstrated that the residents and staff tend to be more satisfied and the residents suffer less depression and need fewer medications.
The buildings are all fairly new. I had hoped to take photographs but was discouraged from doing so because of privacy concerns. I had an appointment for this week’s regularly scheduled tour but was surprised to find myself to be the only one there other than the 2 tour guides. Apparently only one other person had been expected. I was told they keep the tour groups “small” because this is the living space for residents and they try not to disrupt their routine.
During the tour I was told that this nursing home was not selective based on any criteria such as illness or disruptive behavior. They said they took all those who required the level of skilled nursing that they provided. They do have Hospice patients there and they even had some residents who had graduated from hospice because they were doing so well there.
The private rooms each had its own bathroom and shower. Residents are provided with standard furniture such as a bed, chair and bureau, etc. They are also encouraged to bring in their own items to personalize the room. Laundry is done individually by the CNAs in the laundry room which is found in each cottage wing to prevent loss of items or mixing with other residents clothing.
The nursing home provides television cable, but not the television in each resident’s room. The resident or his family is expected to contact the local telephone company for an individual telephone. The cottages are all on one floor, thus no steps and no elevators. They have electronic door access to prevent residents from wondering. Visitors must buzz the secure door to get in.
The entire atmosphere was much quieter, more relaxed and residential than the large nursing home where my father had spent several weeks last year. Interestingly, the same company owns both nursing homes, but they operate on different concepts. The price of this small house concept is higher than the larger nursing home, though not too different. It costs approximately $14,000 per month which is about the most expensive I have seen in this local area.
Still, I far prefer this nursing home over any of the others that I have seen. The major drawback in addition to price is the fact that it is very much in demand and hard to obtain a bed when you need it. This nursing home only accepts residents straight from the hospital that they are also affiliated with. They are able to be selective because there is no shortage of demand for their services.
I was told to telephone a different woman for information on admissions and financial information, which I did after I got home from my tour. I found the telephone bureaucracy a bit difficult to get through as it was for the whole large umbrella organization. But finally I spoke with a social worker in the small nursing home and she was able to answer most of my questions.
I had first spoken with someone in admissions who was quite snippy with me and said if my dad was not in the hospital he couldn’t go there. I explained that I was planning now for future needs and I expected dad would enter from the hospital if he needs a nursing home in the future. I know they also have several independent and assisted living facilities and those residents get first choice also for available beds.
My conclusion after a day of touring and telephone discussions is that it would be expensive and difficult to get dad placed in this small nursing home, but it is by far the best choice available. Of course, I still hope that dad remains healthy enough to remain in his assisted living facility for the long term and never needs a nursing home at all.