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Help Desk: Elder care facilities and what you should know

8:06 PM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
Quadriplegic Adam Martin, right, works with physical therapist Wes Bower at the Sarasota Health and Rehabilitation Center, the nursing home where he lives. (AP)
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WXIA -- Many questions have come up as a result of a recent situation at a California Nursing Home facility where a resident was refused CPR and suffered a fatal outcome. 

The 11Alive Help Desk has found some resources determining what you need to know when looking for a long-term care facility for you loved one.

The Department of Community Health recommends that when looking for a facility one should ask for a current inspection report and license. Reports can be viewed online. Prospective residents are also encouraged to ask about the facility history, how long it has been open, and how many people live there.

Prospective residents should also talk to the residents and ask them about their likes and dislikes. You can also observe the way the nurses treat the patients. Do the patients look happy? Is the facility clean? Do they like the food? Is the staff nice? These are all questions that the Department of Community Health recommends you seek answers for.

Georgia's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is a program designed specifically to improve the lives of residents or elderly long-term care facilities. Their work includes informal investigative work to resolve conflicts or complaints on behalf of the residents. They also visit long-term care facilities to monitor the conditions and provide education to the staff regarding any issues that crop up.

"Our Ombudsman staff and trained volunteers visit facilities and speak to the residents to see if there is an issue, said Ms. McNeal. "We assure them of confidentiality unless they prefer to involve family members in the resolving of an issue. We file an open complaint in our office, then we take steps to resolve the problem, like speaking with the head of the facility, or educating and training the staff. If there is a resolution, we then we close the file on that specific issue but follow-up later on in our reports."

The State Bar of Georgia provides a brochure for Consumers that suggest you tour the facility, drop in unannounced and during different shifts, and attend activities and events to see if the staff encourages meaningful interaction. You can see their pamphlet on their webpage.

Georgia nursing homes are regulated by the government in two ways. First, nursing homes obtain their licenses from the Department of Human Resources' Office of Regulatory Services (ORS). Then, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Georgia Department of Community Health certify and reimburse nursing homes participating in Medicare and/or Medicaid programs.

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