Choosing a Care Facility for the Disabled or Elderly

by Alex J. Coyne

When choosing a care facility, how can you be sure you’re selecting a legitimate facility that will provide not only the necessary care, but the best care for your loved one? Use these guidelines to avoid those facilities that are more about the cash than the care.

There are worldwide headlines of care facilities and old age homes being shut down almost every day. You might have even seen one recently. If you’re about to find a care facility for a beloved family member or yourself, it’s a scary thought to think that some care facilities are more about the cash than the care.

Often these headlines don’t tell the full story. And they certainly don’t tell you how to avoid dodgy care facilities. Or how to choose the right one when it comes to your finances or their legitimacy.

Here’s more about the financial aspects of care facilities, and how you can spot illegally operating care facilities that might make caring about the money more important than caring about the residents’ safety.

The Finances of Finding a Care Facility

It can go both ways. If a care facility seems too expensive for what they’re offering family members, it’s a potential warning sign. But the same is true if a care facility just seems “too cheap.”

The finances of finding a care facility is vital. Take these steps to find something that is affordable while providing excellent care at the same time.

  • Screen several facilities, and collect information on each, including brochures and registration information. Check each out individually – and carefully. Speak to some previous and current patients. Ask about their experiences while living in the facility.
  • Remember to think about the long-term budget for care in the facility – and ask the right questions. Will the price ever change? Can it be negotiated? When should everything be paid? And what freedoms are granted to your family members in the facility while they are there?
  • Ask for a regular monthly or weekly financial breakdown that says exactly what should be paid for and when. Question any ambiguous amounts or unclear charges if they appear.
  • Budget, budget and budget; obviously, preparation for living in a care facility might start years before you or a family member actually does. And if you aren’t there yet, it’s never too early to start preparing for this type of eventuality and ensuring you have money put away.

If a care facility ever starts to feel even remotely like extortion, requests get unusual or your family members start acting differently to themselves, it’s an immediate sign that something is wrong.

Facilities versus Caregivers at Home 

When considering care facilities, sometimes they aren’t the best eventual choice for suiting your family member’s needs. There are times where renting a small apartment with a caregiver, either live-in or not, could meet your needs perfectly fine depending on the level of care they need. 

If you’re choosing the services of a private caregiver rather than opting for a facility, the same rules apply: It’s important to find a registered caregiver with good references and registration information. Double-check both, and make the effort to speak to previous patients. 

It can also help to spend a few days around the facility to assess the level of care given. Remember to ask for regular progress reports from the family members themselves on how it’s going. And make sure you manage to take them out of the care environment to ask them alone.

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Avoidance: How to Avoid Dodgy Care Facilities

First, make sure that the care facility is registered with the relevant authorities in your state. The appearance of a registration number on their documents doesn’t automatically mean they are registered. Many illegal care facilities will simply invent numbers that look right, but aren’t.

Second, always have a contract in place that clearly states the conditions of the stay. It’s a good idea to have this contract looked at by a professional first. If anything seems off, skip to your next option.

 Third, ensure that the chosen care facility has the relevant medical staff in place, offers the right kind of emergency services and knows what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency. It’s your right to request to see qualifications for the facility’s caregivers, too, and to ask why if they aren’t forthcoming about the information.

 It’s also important to ensure that they don’t restrict access to patients, or patient access to the outside.

Other warning signs of a care facility operating illegally or going against legal regulations can include:

  • Sudden diagnosis of conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s by an in-house doctor with no supporting evidence available when asked for – and often refusing to bring in third-party medical help to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Restriction of movement or rights of patients in the care facility; something they may or may not mention during family visits. Usually one of the most important questions – are they willing to have you remove the patient from the facility? If not, think twice about it.
  • Openness is one of the most important things for a care facility to display. Make sure that they’re always honest and up-front about any issues, and that you are never refused access to seeing or speaking to your family members. Even an attempt at this should be a big warning sign.
  • Repeated requests for money, often directly from the patients themselves, or sometimes from the family of the patient. Insist on an itemized list of costs and why, and take note if costs suddenly start fluctuating.
  • Avoidance by the facility owners, operators or caregivers when asked about certain issues or procedure.
  • Reports of abuse or theft in the facility, or sudden changes in behavior for patients should always be taken as a danger sign.
Reviewed April 2019

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