1. Odor: Does it smell- We are in an era where nursing facilities and hospitals pay extra for specially designed, odor-neutralizing waxes and paint, so a facility should not smell. A smell may mean that diapers are not changed as frequently as they could be.
  2. Medical Staff concerns:  What is the turnover rate for nurse’s aides? Does the patient’s doctor serve the facility? When you’re under the care of your physician, you’re going to get better treatment, Does the facility have a good Medical Director?
  3. Activities: What is the status of the facility’s recreation and social services? Ask to see the Activities Schedule. Make sure there are weekend activities, Usually, nonprofit facilities have more chaplains, social workers and recreation therapists on staff than their for-profit counterparts. Check out the recreation and therapy equipment, including stairs, therapy balls and other rehabilitation tools. Is it new, clean, etc? The presence of good equipment may be evidence of a thriving rehabilitation and recreation program, he said.
  4. Nursing Staff: What is the reputation of the nursing staff? Check the facility’s record with the state’s board of public health and by questioning a nursing home ombudsman. A nursing home ombudsman can often tell you whether a facility has had a number of problems. The board of public health can tell you if the place has received citations.
  5. Accreditation: Is the facility accredited? Accreditation shows that the facility has taken extra steps to comply with The Joint Commission, formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCOAH).
  6. Atmosphere: How is the environment?  Is the place neat, clean, pretty and well-decorated? Are the patients awakened by the night shift in the early hours of the morning to accommodate staffing schedules, or are they allowed to wake up on their own time?

Organizations such as Pioneer Network and Eden Alternative monitor these types of things and can provide reliable resources for investigative purposes. While most seniors face major adjustments when transitioning to an elder-care community, Jewish seniors face additional challenges. Not only do they lose their homes, and many of their friends, but they also lose ties to their cultural heritage.  This is where the Jewish Pavilion, a 501c3 non-profit, steps in.  The Pavilion serves as a resource that provides room visits, festive holiday celebrations, and more to 450 Jewish residents in fifty facilities for seniors.  The Jewish Pavilion promotes inclusion, and thousands of seniors of all faiths are welcomed into our programs. www.JewishPavilion.org

The Orlando Senior Help Desk (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues. www.OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org