Expert warns: Make sure nursing home fits your needs

KANSAS CITY, Mo - A local expert in long-term care says a lot of people choose great nursing homes that are wrong for their needs.

Steve Kuker, with Senior Care Consulting, helps counsel families about choosing the right nursing home facility. He urges families to really do their research.

According to Kuker, even great facilities can be bad if they aren't right for your needs. He says he's seen a lot of patients wind up in homes that are inadequate placements for their medical needs.

"They may be trying to force a square peg in a round hole, so to speak," Kuker said.

Sunday afternoon, 75-year-old George Macias walked away from the Cherry Hills Community and Rehabilitation Center. Former employees have contacted the 41 News Investigators to say the facility was not equipped to handle Alzheimer's patients like Macias.

A spokesman for the facility strongly disagrees saying the facility is not only equipped, but regularly trains employees about how to handle patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Kuker says to avoid winding up in a facility that can't meet your needs, make sure you do your research. That means evaluating every resource you can get your hands on and taking a tour in person.

"It's not enough to walk in and if the place smells OK. If you don't notice any odor and the people are nice … that's not enough anymore," Kuker said. "You need to drill down and find out all you can find out about that facility."

Kuker also says there are a lot of great facilities to choose from, but the best facility is going to be the one that can meet your short-term and long-term needs.

"Think about it," Kuker said. "You're trusting total strangers to provide the most intimate of care for your mother, for your father, for someone you love. Shouldn't you know as much as you can about that facility and its operation and its track record before you trust them to care for them?"

Meanwhile, we've also received feedback from the Missouri Health Care Association, which represents long-term care facilities in the state of Missouri.

Executive Director Jon Dolan told us over the last two years, Cherry Hills has made $120,000 in improvements and continues to improve the quality of care at the facility.

According to public records, Dolan is a registered lobbyist in the state of Missouri on behalf of the long-term care industry.

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