Choosing a Retirement/Nursing Facility
Update: January 2009
The decision to move to a retirement/nursing facility is not an easy one to make, nor is the search to find a suitable place any less difficult. However, the whole process may be facilitated somewhat, if you know ahead of time pertinent questions to ask, and are aware of the variety of services available.
Facilities can be divided into several categories. Today, one can find retirement homes (Diur Mugan) (should be licensed by the Ministry of Welfare) and nursing homes Beit Avot (should be licensed by the Ministry of Health). Homes with certification must meet standards set by the above ministries in terms of room size, provision of care, safety measures, etc. There are also government run retirement/nursing facilities where application is made via the Social Welfare Services for the Elderly.
There are also retirement hotels and communities, generally catering to an elderly population but not necessarily certified by the above ministries. They therefore may or may not provide a full range of services as required by these ministries. In addition, there are nursing facilities geared specifically towards those with psycho-degenerative diseases that a regular nursing home may not be equipped to handle. In any case, a very important point to consider is the continuity of care should one eventually need nursing care. Find out if the retirement home has:
- Nursing section on the premises.
- Transfer arrangements to a nursing facility within its own network of homes or to a specific outside facility with whom they have a special arrangement.
- No transfer arrangement available and therefore the person/family must arrange transfer themselves.
Knowing ahead of time that nursing care arrangements are provided in place for the future can greatly ease one’s mind. The services provided in a facility are obviously of utmost importance. Speaking to staff and residents, and visiting the facility can provide a fairly clear picture of what is available.
One should take into consideration the following categories:
Concerning Health Care one should check: availability of staff nurse (24hr.?), provision of convalescent care/chronic care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, physicians’ services (hours per week), distance to nearest hospital.
- Health care
- Technical/day-to-day services
- Health/safety devices
- Social surroundings
- Payment and legal considerations
- The “personal touch”
Health and safety Aids that should be provided include: handrails in corridors, hand bars at toilet and tub, non-skids in tub and bathroom, ramps, emergency call system in both room and bathroom, adequate fire precautions, i.e. smoke-alarm, extinguishers, exit signs.
Technical Day-to-Day considerations should include: type of heating, air-conditioning, elevator, telephone in rooms, kashrus, dining room as well as option of cooking in own room, laundry facilities, option to bring own furniture, closets and storage space.
Social Surroundings. For native English speakers who feel most comfortable communicating in English, it is important to find out if there are staff members as well as other residents with whom one can easily speak. Having even a small number of other English speaking residents can make a big difference in “adjusting” to new surroundings. Also check the average age of other residents, as this could be an important consideration. Don’t forget to inquire as to what social activities/classes are provided, and if there is a library on the premises. Ask about shopping on premises as many places have a small grocery, and about nearby shopping. Be sure to check out availability of nearby transportation.
Payment and Legal Considerations. Prices vary from place to place as do entrance fees, options for refunds and inheritance rights of children in the case when the “apartment” is purchased. The various options available make it imperative that you be a good consumer and carefully look for the arrangement suitable for you. For instance, although most facilities do require an entrance fee in addition to monthly maintenance fees, there are a number of facilities which have no entrance fee, but charge a higher monthly maintenance. Sometimes a facility will offer both options. Another consideration is right of refund, should a person decide to leave a facility. There is usually a scale of repayment over a limited number of years. In case of death, the family or children may be entitled to the refund. The right to refund must be carefully checked out, as it differs greatly from place to place.
When finally a person decides upon a facility, a contract will need to be signed. As in the signing of any legal contract, it is strongly recommended to seek legal advice, to make sure that one’s rights are as well protected as possible.
The Personal Touch. Together with checking into the above pragmatic considerations, don’t forget to look carefully at the kind of warm, personal care offered. A facility, though perhaps modern, spotlessly clean, and offering all services, must also provide the individual touch (in so far as possible) in meeting the specific needs of its residents. Speaking to other residents and/or their family members, as well as a trial stay at the facility (usually required), can give one a good idea of the way in which staff personally relates to those in care.