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Find The Right Fit – Choosing The Right Skilled-Nursing Facility

Choosing a skilled-nursing facility for yourself or a loved one can be a stressful decision, in large part because it’s difficult to know how to find one that works for you.

How do you know whether a facility is the right fit? How do you know whether it provides the medical care and life-enriching activities you or your loved one deserve? The key to making an informed decision is to take a tour of the site, according to BJ DiDonato, Director of Community Relations for Regency Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington, DE and Regal Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Hockessin.

“You must take a tour of the community,” DiDonato stresses. “A tour allows you to get an idea of the personality and feel of the home.” Surprisingly, it only takes 7 seconds to make 11 impressions to decide if you like, dislike or are indifferent to a community. Those 11 impressions are:

Cleanliness ~ Engaging ~ Credible ~ Knowledgeable ~ Responsive ~ Friendly ~ Helpful Understanding ~ Courteous ~ Confident ~ Professional

During a tour, DiDonato says that potential residents and their loved ones should ask detailed questions of staff members, including the medical director, recreation personnel and physical therapists, to ensure that the facility can provide the right programs and support you want and need. For instance, make sure that special services like physical therapy are appropriately staffed. If you’re interested in art then make sure that art classes are offered.

Make sure that the facility is clean and tidy. Make a point to use your senses – sight, smell, touch and taste – when touring. Request a visit during meal times to have your own culinary experience, or participate in pre-planned activities programs and take in the surroundings.

“You’ll want to make sure you see every bit of the building,” DiDonato says, noting the open-minded approach of Nationwide Health Care Services, which owns Regency and Regal Heights. “When touring, prospective residents should always take the opportunity to talk with current residents and to see community personnel in action.”

The same principles apply if you’re planning a short-term stay at a skilled-nursing facility for recovery care. In those cases, prospective patients should also ensure that the facilities they are considering specialize in the needed type of care. Many facilities provide a range of sub-acute rehabilitation services.

Finally, you’ll also want to visit the community’s website, as well as any social media pages such as Facebook that they maintain. The social media pages give a good insight into the daily activities, ongoing events and special interests of the facility.

Nationwide Health Care facilities will happily give tours to those who arrive without an appointment, but it’s a good idea to call ahead and schedule a tour. Regal Heights (, 302-998-0181) is located at 6525 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, DE 19707 and Regency Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center (www., 302-654-8400) is located at 801 N. Broom St., Wilmington, DE 19806. Ms. DiDonato can be reached directly at 302-598-8898 and also by calling the communities.

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