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Grown: How to find elder care, nursing homes in Arkansas

by Nyssa Kruse | August 24, 2021 at 9:48 a.m.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/fSTATON BREIDENTHAL 8/10/11 Certified physicians' assistant Lindsay Hayward (left) talks with patient Lucy Hatton while visiting her room at Premier Health Care Nursing Home in North Little Rock.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here or go here to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters.

Finding care for an elderly family member can be an overwhelming prospect. To help, here’s where experts from the Department of Human Services recommend starting.

A place to begin

Families may not be sure what kind of care their loved one needs or what programs they are eligible for, so Tami Rogers, an operations manager within a division of DHS, recommends starting by contacting the Choices In Living Resource Center either by phone at 1-866-801-3435 or by emailing choicesinliving@arkansas.gov.

Workers in the resource center, which is run by DHS, ask questions to understand what kind of care a person’s family member might need and can point them to appropriate programs and additional resources.

“They may not be the expert on every single program, but they do know enough about these programs or know where to go to give guidance to an individual based on their situation,” Rogers said.

Marlene Coffman, a program specialist within the Choices in Living Resource Center, said she thinks of the resource center as the hub of a vast wheel, able to send callers down different spokes to find what they need. Many people don’t know what programs are out there.

“My biggest thing that I've heard over all the years I've been doing this has been, ‘Well they told me I wasn't eligible’ and they were asking about one program,” Coffman said. “They didn't realize that there are numerous other programs that they actually could fit better in and could work better for them.”

Some of the programs available in the state include ARChoices In Homecare, which offers various services such as attendant care or meal delivery to qualifying adults in their homes, and Living Choices, an assisted living program that allows residents to be independent while also receiving around-the-clock supervision and care.

Coffman said there are also various regional or local programs, and more information is generally available via Area Agencies On Aging throughout the state.

Finding a facility

If a long-term care facility such as a nursing home is the best option for a loved one, DHS offers a list of options in Arkansas.

The listings provide basic information about the facility, such as the number of beds and whether they accept Medicaid or Medicare.

Coffman said another option to find a facility is the federal Medicare comparison tool.

Researching a facility

The federal Medicare facility comparison tool not only can help find a facility but it also provides insight into facilities’ operations and quality.

The tool gives each site an overall rating out of five stars and flags facilities that have been cited for abuse.

It also gives three additional ratings for each site on health inspections, staffing and quality of resident care. Users can also see results of inspections and whether the facility has been fined by federal authorities.

Aside from online research, Coffman also said it’s important for families to visit facilities in person.

For one, on a visit, families can ask nursing homes in Arkansas to see the site’s 2567, a document created after a DHS site visit or survey that notes any observed violations of state regulations.

But more broadly, Coffman said families need to make sure a given facility is somewhere they can imagine their loved one living. Talking to the families of current residents, she said, is a good way to get insight about a particular facility.

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