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What do you SEE when you HEAR the words Nursing Home?

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According to Merriam Webster, it is a place where people who are old or who are unable to take care of themselves can live and be taken care of. A privately operated establishment providing maintenance and personal or nursing care for persons (as the aged or the chronically ill) who are unable to care for themselves properly.

What do you SEE when you HEAR the words Nursing Home?

Most Americans SEE Nursing Homes as a place people go to die. They also SEE them as offering inadequate care, not clean, not friendly with an unskilled workforce. And, when seniors are asked about a Nursing Home, their common response is, “Don’t send me to a Nursing Home.”

Sad to say, there are few upbeat news stories about Nursing Homes. The image of nursing homes presents a bit of a public relations problem, and you're far more likely to run across negative news coverage on escalating costs, neglect and inattention as well as cost-reduction measures that make those entrance fees at nursing homes seem even more excessive.

Discovery Health sheds some light on the history of Nursing Homes. In the early days of the United States, feelings of shame surrounding nursing homes were quite normal. Early poor farms and almshouses were in fact stigmatized by state governments. These were the archetypes for nursing homes at the turn of the 20th century. Disgrace was associated with these dwellings to deter people from using them.

By the 1950s, American society became more amicable towards caring for its elderly as nursing homes became modeled after hospitals. Nursing homes were then recognized more as places to provide for the health of an elder rather than as providing a welfare handout.

Sadly, it wasn't until the 1980s that government came to recognize what poor conditions existed in some of these homes and began to initiate reforms to improve in the quality of care received by residents. To this day, the revolution in care continues in the form of the culture change movement, which endeavors to alter the manner in which patients in nursing homes are treated.

Fast forward to 2014 – with the aid of the internet, Nursing Homes are no longer hidden behind the history of the term, they are now OUT IN THE OPEN for all to see. When a family is in need of a “home” for their loved one, their first step is not to tour, but to research the internet first, then tour.

Medicare.gov provides a resource for Locating Nursing Homes in your designated area. You can search by city, state, zip code or by name. The search provides a list within your designated area with their overall rating, health inspections, staffing, quality measures and distance. You can compare up to three nursing homes to receive the health inspection summary which includes number of certified beds, participation in Medicare/Medicaid, Automatic Sprinkler Systems, Within a Continuing Care Retirement Community, Within a Hospital, With a Resident Family Council and Ownership. It contains information on every Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country, including over 17,000 nationwide.

Choosing the right Nursing Home is important. Medicare provides another valuable resource through Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long Term Care.

In addition to locating a Nursing Home in your designated area, reviewing their ratings and eventually Choosing a Nursing Home, Medicare.gov also offers valuable information for Nursing Home Residents, and their families, to help them understand their rights and protections - Your Rights and Protections as a Nursing Home Resident.

Feb, 26, 2014 U.S. News and World Report released the Best Nursing Homes 2014. Best Nursing Homes provides data and information on care, safety, health inspections, staffing and more for nearly every nursing facility in the U.S. A searchable database lets users find highly rated nursing homes by distance as well as by location. Each facility’s profile displays health and fire violations, performance in important clinical categories and how much time nursing staff spends with residents.

Medicare.gov and U.S. News and World Report – two great resources to locate the best Nursing Homes in your area.

What do you SEE when you HEAR the words Nursing Home? With Medicare.gov and U.S. News and World Report, you should see the BEST that is offered in your area. A place where you see smiling faces and trained staff who have pride in their community.

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