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Nursing Homes

When a person is no longer able to live independently, a nursing home might become an option. South Dakota law provides that no person can be admitted to a nursing home unless an assessment of the individual's health and social needs is performed.

The assessment is conducted by a social worker. The worker will prepare an individual care plan. This plan will coordinate state programs and other community resources so that the person can remain at home.

Because the recommendation is not binding, the individual will still make the final decision. Your local Adult Services and Aging office can provide the assessment.

If a family member needs to be placed in a nursing home, you will need to choose a home that best fits your family member's needs.

Begin the process of choosing by selecting a few homes in your area. You can also ask for recommendations from friends who have family in nursing homes. Your family physician might also be a good resource.

You should visit each nursing home personally before making a decision. Pay attention to the details while you are there, and be sure to ask lots of questions. Some things you'll want to take note of include:

  • Are the residents clean and involved in activities?
  • Are outings planned?
  • Are church services planned?
  • How often do they see others from the community?
  • What is the staff per resident ratio?
  • Are the staff within sight of the residents?
  • Are the rooms clean and private?
  • Do residents appear well nourished?How long have the nurses aides been working there? A high turnover rate is a bad sign.
  • How are medical emergencies handled and how far away is the nearest hospital?
  • Does it appear restraints or sedatives have been over used?
  • Do the current residents of the home like or dislike the facility? Why?

Those tips will give you a good start in choosing a nursing home. But, before you make a final decision, read the contracts and policies carefully. Discuss payment options and make all necessary arrangements. Contact the Department of Health at 605-773-3361, and ask about the home's compliance with state regulations.

The Office of Adult Services and Aging also has an Ombudsman Program. The program receives and investigates complaints made on behalf of residents of long term care facilities. The Ombudsman is an advocate for the individual and provides information and assistance to residents and their families. They can be reached at 605-773-3656.

Residents' Rights in Nursing Homes

The Department of Health has adopted rules concerning the right of residents in nursing homes. Some of those rights include:

  • The resident and family must be informed if the resident's treatment changes, when treatment changes, or when the patient needs to be moved or discharged.
  • The resident and family must be notified if the resident's roommate changes.
  • Resident have the right to manage their own financial affairs and is not required to deposit personal funds with the facility.
  • The resident has a right to choose a personal attending physician and make choices, if competent, about their own health care.
  • Residents have the right to privacy and confidentiality in accommodations, medical treatment, mail, telephone communications, visits, and family meetings.
  • The resident has a right to a safe, clean, comfortable environment, free of abuse.

The nursing home is required to inform the resident before admission, of all of their rights and of the rules governing the facility.

For a free brochure on resident's rights, contact the Ombudsman Program at 605-773-3656.

Complaints regarding nursing homes should be directed to the Department of Health at 605-773-3361.