6 important questions to ask when choosing a long-term care provider

Posted on July 23, 2019
By Nikki Tyler, Sr. Admissions Professional at St. Ann’s Community
Also featured in Democrat & Chronicle

Diving into the search for a long-term care provider for yourself or a loved one can often be an overwhelming process. Planning ahead and doing research can help with making this big life transition. Many providers offer a wide variety of services, care and amenities, but how do you evaluate which one is a good fit?

When it comes time for you to look for a long-term care provider, make sure you ask these questions in order to make an informed decision and find the provider that’s best for you or your loved one.

Does the provider offer specialized medical treatment?

For seniors, sometimes it isn’t enough to have a regular physician. A geriatrician is a physician who has additional specialized training in treating older patients. Geriatricians often work as part of a team with other care providers, focusing on helping older patients who have multiple health issues or complex conditions. When you choose a provider that has geriatricians on staff, knowing that an expert in senior care is available can provide peace of mind.

Does the provider offer private rooms or shared rooms?

It’s important to determine whether you or your loved one will be most comfortable in a private room or in a shared room with another resident. Some people value their privacy, and they may not be comfortable in close quarters with another person. On the other hand, some people are very social and would love to have a friend close by to talk to and spend time with. Make sure you find out what types of rooms the provider offers and which you or your loved one might prefer.

Does the provider accept my insurance?

There are several different types of Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance plans out there. Different providers tend to contract with different plans. It’s important that you or your loved one check with the provider to make sure your particular insurance plan is contracted with before signing any applications or paperwork.

Does the provider offer recreational programming?

Look for a long-term care provider that has a life enrichment or recreational programming. Life enrichment teams and recreational events offer fun, diverse and engaging activities for all residents. These scheduled programs keep residents active and involved with staff and other residents, and can provide opportunities for you or your loved one to socialize and make friends.

Does the provider offer pastoral care services?

If faith and religion are important to you or your loved one, look for a provider that has pastoral care services. Many providers offer a chapel setting with a wide range of religious services for different faiths. Some providers even have a pastoral care staff that visits with residents socially or in times of distress or grief. Pastoral care can often be just as vital as medical care to residents.

Does the provider take a person-centered approach?

Some providers practice person-centered care. This means that the focus is on the resident and their abilities, preferences, values and individual needs. Other providers take a more institutionalized approach to care, which puts an emphasis on medical diagnoses, disabilities and deficits. Person-centered care focuses on improving and maintaining quality of life, whereas the institutionalized approach concentrates more on efficiency and quality of medical care. Look for a long-term care provider that puts the person first and honors and respects the uniqueness of each resident.

As you work toward finding the right long-term care provider for you or your loved one, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all provider out there. Each person is unique in their wants, needs and level of care desired, and some providers may not fit the bill for every person. Asking these questions during your provider search will help you find the best fit possible for you or your loved one.

Nichole Tyler has a bachelor’s degree in social work and has been working in the gerontology field for the past 10 years, eight of which have been with St. Ann’s Community. She manages admissions for all three St. Ann’s long-term care centers. Contact her at [email protected].

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