How do I find a “good” nursing home on such short notice? What should I look for? Do I have a choice?
Answer: Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get into the nursing home of your choice on short notice. The hospital will recommend a nursing home that happens to have a bed available. Beds open up more quickly in a rehabilitation unit than they do in long term care units. Under an exception to State law, you can sometimes get into your first choice if you are willing to pay privately at the nursing home for a short period of time (generally 6 months). If you need nursing home care right away and can’t take advantage of the above exception, you can go to the nursing home the hospital recommends and place your name on the waiting lists of 2 or 3 nursing homes that you prefer. When a bed becomes available at one of these nursing homes and if your name is next on the waiting list, you can then transfer to that nursing home. Clearly, if you think you or a loved one may need nursing home care in the near future, it is better to take your time looking at different nursing home and assisted living options and to place your name on 2 or 3 nursing home waiting lists now—before a health crisis hits.