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When should I consider looking into nursing facility placement for an elderly family member?

Brandie Simmons, Admissions Coordinator

Making the decision to admit a loved one to a nursing home is one of the most difficult steps to take for family members, so it is wise to find out what your options are before the need arrives.

Start by checking with your local Area Agency on Aging to help you assess your immediate needs as well as give you a list of nursing homes in your area. It is also helpful to talk with your family member’s physician, friends or other family members who have been through similar situations.

Next, take time to visit the facilities you are considering. Factors such as location and proximity to family and friends are important. Each facility is unique with its own personality and will offer some of the same services, but many offer specific health services and amenities. Before you visit make a list of the questions you have and if you need help, the internet is a valuable source for checklists to help guide you through the process. You may also call our office for a free guide to selecting a nursing home.

My mother needs placement in a nursing facility, but her primary care physician doesn’t make rounds at nursing facilities. Can she still see her primary care doctor while in a nursing facility or will she have to change doctors?

Margit Krellwitz, MSN, RN

Nursing facilities have regulations that require a resident to be seen by a physician on a regular basis. Since your mother’s physician does not make these routine rounds there are a couple of options available to you.

The first would be for your mother to continue to see her current physician; she would simply go to the physician’s office for scheduled visits. A family member could transport your mother or you could choose to have the nursing facility’s van scheduled to take her to her appointment. Another option would be for you to select a physician that does make rounds at the nursing facility. The nursing facility will be able to provide you with a list of physicians that make routine rounds.

My Mom has dementia and wanders off frequently. I promised her I would never put her in a nursing home, but I just can’t keep her safe 24/7, I’m exhausted and my friends recommended I put her at Methodist.

Margit Krellwitz, MSN, RN

You are not alone! So many people feel exactly as you do. Making a decision to place a loved one in a long term care environment is heart wrenching. You want to keep them safe, but you don’t want to break your promise to your Mom either. Take heart, nursing homes have changes dramatically over the years and the focus is now on providing a wonderful, engaging home environment that allows your Mom to thrive and enjoy life as she transitions through her dementia. Many residents and families are relieved once they make the decision and are quite happy in their new home. Our knowledge of the best ways to help people with dementia has changed too. At Methodist Village Senior Living all of our staff receives specialized training on dementia care and we will help both you and your Mom through this difficult situation.

If I enter a nursing home will I ever have privacy and feel as comfortable as I do at home?

Nursing homes must strike a difficult balance between the provision of adequate supervision and much needed privacy for the individuals who live there. After entering a nursing home many individuals may feel more comfortable and secure than they did living at home. This is due to our ability to offer 24 hour assistance with the daily responsibilities of managing illness, medications and a home or apartment.

Common areas in nursing homes tend to be open, while the resident rooms are considered their private space. Methodist Village Senior Living offers private rooms as well as the standard semi-private rooms. Our facility continues to do renovations that are specifically intended to update and to create a more homelike environment.
I invite you to stop by and tour our facility today.

How can I afford to live in a nursing home?

Many seniors and their families worry about the cost of long term care and it does seem daunting at first. First take into consideration what the fees at Methodist include: 24 hour 7 day per week nursing assistance, meals, laundry and housekeeping services, cable television/utilities and nursing supplies as well as the benefit of a daily activity program and the ability to socially interact with peers and others from the community.

Nursing Home fees are paid from a combination of sources including, personal resources, long term care insurance, Medicare or by the State Medicaid program which helps those individuals who have a financial need. We would be happy to discuss further options and explain the programs available by stopping by our office at 1915 South 74th Street, Fort Smith, AR or calling 479-452-1611.

Do nursing home residents receive adequate care?

Stories about inadequate care and abuse in nursing homes make the news headlines because they are not typical. Nursing homes today deliver high quality care; many of the individuals working in nursing homes do so because they are caring individuals who see their jobs as their mission and chosen profession. Annual and complaint inspections are made frequently by the State to ensure the quality levels are met.

No nursing home is perfect, so it is important for family and friends to serve as an important safety net. If you feel that proper attention or care is not being given, ask questions. Speak with the director of nursing and/or the administrator. If you are not satisfied with their responses, it may be time to explore other options with the area ombudsman at your local Area Agency on Aging.

Are nursing home residents allowed to bring furnishings from home when they are admitted?

Brandie Simmons, Admissions Coordinator

We encourage residents to bring personal belongings when moving to Methodist. Items such as a favorite chair, book shelf, family photos, floral arrangements and door wreaths are most helpful to define the space and make it feel familiar and comfortable.

However, when moving keep in mind the available space. Too much furniture may invade the space of the resident’s roommate or could be a safety hazard to the resident or facility employees in case of an emergency.

We invite you to contact our office for a free copy of “About Entering a Nursing Home”.

Is it true that nursing homes are always short staffed?

Federal and state laws determine the staffing ratio for the nursing staff as well as staffing for other departments such as Housekeeping and Dietary. In Arkansas the Direct Care (Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants) staffing ratio is one nursing staff member for every six residents on the day shift, one to every nine on the evening shift and one to every fourteen on the night shift.

Since the ratio is based on the number of residents residing in the facility you must always take into consideration that the numbers may change daily due to admissions and discharges.

If you would like further explanation of the Arkansas Staffing regulations, please feel free to stop by or call our office at: 1915 South 74th Street, 479-452-1611.

My mother is on hospice at home, but she needs more nursing care than we can provide. Can she stay on hospice if she is admitted to the nursing home?

Margit Krellwitz, MSN, RN

Yes, hospice residents are very welcome at Methodist Village Senior Living. Local hospice agencies work hand in hand with our staff to care for our hospice residents. Whether you are admitted from the hospital on hospice, come from home, or choose to add hospice services once you are a resident here you will find our nursing staff working closely with the hospice provider to ensure a team approach is used to provide the best possible care.

Stop by or call our office for a list of hospice care providers in this area.

I am the primary caregiver for my father who requires help with his medication and other daily routines. My daughter is getting married out of state and my father cannot tolerate the trip. Is there any help out there? I really want to attend my daughter’s big day.

Brandie Simmons, Admissions Coordinator

Respite Care is a term often used for this type care. It simply means “interval of rest or relief”. Respite care or short term stays in a long term care facility, provides families the ability as the primary care giver to take time off for travel or to attend to other needs. The stays can be for a period of several days to several weeks.

Methodist Village Senior Living does offer individuals the ability to admit for short term stays. If you are interested in this type arrangement, simply contact our office at least one to two weeks prior to your departure so that we could arrange for a room and gather the necessary admission paperwork.

I understand that there are two phases or levels of care at Methodist Village. Could you explain the differences between the levels?

Methodist Village is an independent living apartment complex for senior adults aged 62 years and older which offers studio, one and two bedroom apartments. The Village is HUD approved and offers rent subsidies to those individuals whose income levels are low enough to qualify. Methodist Village also offers its occupants emergency call system which is staffed 24 hours per day plus optional services such as Housekeeping & Laundry, activities, and noon meal service.

The Nursing Home is a long term care nursing facility offering Medicare and Medicaid services for individuals who require 24 hour nursing care and/or supervision with all care needs. The facility also provides convalescence or respite stays for those who are recovering from illness or surgery.

Both facilities are unique and have special services and amenities available, please contact our business office for a tour and further information.

Tips for visiting with a person living in a long term care facility:

Marla Pense, Activity Director

• Talk with the individual you visit, ask questions and opinions about current events, family, favorite sports, politics and similar topics. Whatever the topic, be sure you involve the individual in the conversation.
• Bring books or magazines – Large print are most appreciated, photo albums with family photos are also a favorite to strike up a conversation.
• Visit during one of the special facility planned activities and attend with the individual.
• If there are no food restrictions, bring a homemade treat such as cookies, slice of pie or cake.
• If the individual is able it’s always a treat to go out for ice cream, a ride around town, to the shopping mall or home to visit family.
• Bring a few favorite things from home. Such things as small mementos, hand-made afghan or quilt, but don’t bring items that could not be replaced if they get lost or broken.

I am currently shopping for a nursing facility for an elderly family member is there any report I can obtain to insure they have met the Federal and State standards?

Each nursing facility is required to post a copy of their yearly survey inspection results in an area accessible to residents, their family members and visitors.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also posts results on its web site at: It is always a good idea to follow up with the nursing facility Administrator about the results of any report you review.

Getting a better understanding of how they are operated and what standards are required will help make your decision a little easier.

What’s a typical day like a Nursing Home?

Marla Pense, Activity Director

As is the case with most of us, a typical day at Methodist begins with getting up, dressing, and having breakfast. Depending upon a resident’s needs, professional care may include our nursing staff dispensing medications, and/or visits by our physical and speech therapy staff.
Morning activities such as “News & Brews” are popular with residents, when they get together to discuss current events over coffee. For many, having lunch and dinner in the dining room provide opportunities for socialization. From time to time, meals turn into special events when musical entertainment is provided.
Visits from relatives and friends often occur and of course, there’s a range of the ordinary activities that many enjoy—from reading and watching television to going outside to enjoy the weather.
A typical day depends upon the resident’s needs and interests. With the help of relatives, friends, and the nursing home staff each person can find fulfillment in their daily lives.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age or older and certain disabled people. Medicare will pay for short term nursing home care if the nursing home participates in the program. The local Social Security Administration office takes applications for Medicare and provides general information about the program.
Medicaid is a medical assistance program jointly financed by state and federal governments for low-income individuals. Medicaid coverage and eligibility vary among states. Eligibility for nursing home care depends on both financial and non-financial criteria. An individual may apply for Medicaid at the county Department of Human Services (DHS) where the nursing home is located.

Will transferring my assets to my children or other family member affect my eligibility for nursing home Medicaid?

Brandie Simmons, Admissions Coordinator

When an individual applies for Medicaid the State will do what is called a “look back” to find transfers of assets. The current look back period is 60 months prior to the date the individual is admitted to a nursing facility. A penalty or disqualification period will result in denial of all Medicaid payments if any assets were transferred during that look back period.
Check with your county office or the CMS and Arkansas Medicaid website for future changes in these guidelines.

What is the role of a licensed social worker in a nursing home setting?

Brittany Lovick, Director of Social Services, LMSW

Social worker responsibilities vary widely in a nursing home setting. Social workers seek to help residents function better in their environment, identify and scope with problems and improve relationships with others if needed. Social workers may be distinguished from other ‘helping professionals,” including nurses and psychologists, through their knowledge of community resources, and their focus on client’s strengths. Social workers focus on the social and emotional impact of physical or mental disabilities. They provide residents and families with psychosocial support as they cope with chronic, acute or terminal illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or Cancer. Social workers keep abreast of current federal and state regulations, as well as professional standards. They participate in discharge planning, development and implementation of social care plans and resident assessments. Social workers deliver mail to residents and assist them with reading mail as needed. Social workers ensure that residents have copies of the facility policies and an explanation of the resident’s rights. They maintain the confidentiality of the resident and their families at all times.

My mother is in a hospital recovering after surgery for a fractured hip. Her physician has recommended rehabilitation services in a skilled nursing facility. Does my mother have the right to choose the facility she feels most appropriate for her needs?

Brandie Simmons, Admissions Coordinator

Yes, as a Medicare recipient, your mother has the right to choose the facility that she would like to assess her need for skilled services. The hospital discharge planner is required by Medicare regulations to provide her a list of area nursing facilities that offer skilled services. Medicare provides a web site that is helpful in making a choice, ( This site provides a Nursing Home Check list that can be printed from a PDF file. You may find this quite useful in asking the appropriate questions when you visit the facility of your mother’s choice.

How will I be ensured that my loved one will be offered an activity that he/she likes?

Marla Pense, Activity Director

Methodist Village Senior Living conducts an activity planning committee meeting every month. All residents are encouraged to attend to input their suggestions. The activity staff also visits with the residents daily to make sure their activity needs are being met. We have a wide variety of activities ranging including religious, social, games, crafts and sport-related activities. We also have a van outing every month to let our residents enjoy nature. Our goal is to schedule activities based on the residents’ interests.

Do you provide individualized activities for each resident?

Marla Pense, Activity Director

At Methodist Village Senior Living we realize not every resident has the same interests or needs. Our activity department visits with each resident twice a week to ensure their activity interests and needs are being met. We have some residents that like to read, while others like to listen to music or engage in coloring or crossword puzzles.

I was told Medicare will pay for 100 days in a skilled nursing facility. Is that true?

Margit Krellwitz, MSN, RN

Medicare Part A is designed to assist you in rehabilitating back to your maximum potential. It will cover 100% of the first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility after a 3 midnight qualifying stay in a hospital. Days 21-100 are covered 80% by Medicare A with the remaining 20% copayment paid by most secondary insurance companies or the responsible party; that 20% daily cost is $161.50. It is important to understand that weekly progress must be made in order to remain on Medicare A; you are not guaranteed 100 days. This is my proposal.

My wife suffered a stroke and is in the hospital, the case manager said she would benefit from rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. How do I decide which facility will be best for her?

Margit Krellwitz, MSN, RN

Many factors need to be considered when choosing a skilled nursing facility: quality and quantity of staff, excellent therapy services, the facility environment, and the ability of the facility staff to care for your wife without readmission to the hospital. Sometimes families choose a facility based on the recommendations of friends in the community. I recommend you visit two or three facilities with great reputations for quality care, ask for a tour and look at the amenities. Ask yourself will my wife get better here, does the staff seem to care about the residents they care for?


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