The decision to seek care for a loved one – either temporary or long-term – is never an easy one to make. Beyond your own feelings for placing a family member in a nursing home, also called a skilled nursing facility, several factors come into play: What type of care is needed, where do I go, and how do I know my relative will be safe?

For nursing care, Connecticut residents have a better pool of resources to select from, compared with other states. Ranked number nine in the country for the quality of care, Connecticut centers have an average rating out of 3.5 out of five, based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reviews, and 64 percent all have less than three complaints.

Still, statistics only tell part of the story you need to know. As you prepare to make this major decision, take these points into account to find the best possible living situation in a qualified Connecticut nursing home.

1. Know what kind of care your loved one needs

First things first, not all nursing homes offer the same type of care and are divided into three basic types:
Residential Care Homes are stated-licensed facilities that provide food, shelter, laundry, and trained workers for bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and monitoring of medication. The home provides trained medical supervision when the resident needs it, but a nurse is not available on staff full time.
Chronic and Convalescent Nursing Homes offer dedicated nursing staff trained to handle complicated medical needs.
Home health care brings a trained caretaker into your home for basic daily needs, but this individual is not always licensed and cannot provide significant medical support.

2. Do research

Connecticut regulations require all nursing home proprietors to submit records every other year of sound physical and mental health and of all staff members, to provide up to 12 hours of training per year, and to meet very strict cleanliness standards. Nursing homes failing to meet these standards are issued a Class A or Class B citation from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

3. Check rankings

Yearly, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publish a list of rankings per state, grading all nursing homes on three factors: performance in health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality of medical care. Typically, 34 to 40 percent of Connecticut nursing homes have an overall five-star average, with the following frequently scoring well:

1. Alzheimer’s Resource Center Of Connecticut, Plantsville

2. Apple Rehab Shelton Lakes, Shelton

3. Beacon Brook Health Center, Naugatuck

4. Bidwell Care Center, Manchester

5. Bishop Wicke Health & Rehab Ct., Shelton

4. What kind of care is provided?

If a loved one is expected to need more than a short-term stay, determine if the facility provides “continuing care,” or for short-term treatment, any of these other specialized programs:
• Short-term rehabilitation
• Hospice
• Respiratory therapy
• Recreation
• IV therapy
• Respite care
• Alzheimer’s care
• Dementia care

5. Determine an effective communication pattern between you, staff, and your loved one

A news story recently revealed nearly a third of short-term residents don’t get the care they need from nursing homes – partially due to communication. Ensure that the facility’s medical staff will listen to you and any hospital doctor requesting treatment. As well, make sure all workers know how to communicate effectively with your loved one, particularly those who will have the most frequent amount of contact; within nearly all Connecticut homes, staff members speak not just English but also Spanish, Polish, Italian, Russian, Jamaican, Creole, Vietnamese, and other foreign languages.