Choosing a Nursing Home


Filed under Living & Housing

Choosing a nursing home is an important decision, and it is vital to ensure that the facility you select will provide the highest quality of care for your loved one. There are three main steps you can take to find the nursing home that offers the services, environment, and lifestyle options that best suit your loved one’s needs and preferences. Planning ahead, taking the time to analyze your options, and carefully researching several facilities before making a decision will help to ensure that the nursing home you choose will help your loved one maintain health, happiness, and dignity. Review the steps listed below as you begin this critical decision making process.

Step 1: Find nursing home facilities in your area.

• Ask people you trust, like your doctor, family members, friends, neighbors, and clergy if they have had positive experience with a particular nursing home Keep a list of the names of these facilities and look up contact information for each using the phone book or internet.

• Call your Area Agency on Aging (AoA). This telephone number should be listed in your local telephone directory or you can find it online by visiting The local AoA can provide information about nursing homes in your area. – Call the Medicare Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 for information about nursing homes in your area.

Step 2: Find out how nursing homes compare in quality.

• Nursing homes are certified to make sure they meet certain Federal health and safety requirements. To find out how nursing homes compare in quality in your area, look at on the web. Select ” Nursing Home Compare.” You can compare the State inspection reports of the nursing homes in your area and look at other information, like resident characteristics and staffing levels.

• Ask friends and other trusted community members if they are or were satisfied with the quality of care. – Call the local office of consumer affairs for your state. Ask if they have information on the quality of nursing homes. Look in the blue pages of your telephone book for their telephone number.

• Call your state’s health department. Ask if they have information on the quality of nursing homes. This phone number will also be listed in the blue pages of your phone book.

Step 3: Visit the nursing homes you are interested in.

• Before you make a decision, visit the nursing homes you are interested in. This will give you the chance to see the residents, staff, and facility. It also allows you to talk with nursing home staff, the people who live and get care at the nursing home and their family members. Be sure to call the nursing home office and make an appointment to tour the nursing home before you visit. – Ask about the types of services and activities the nursing home provides for residents.

• Ask about the cost and fees for care. Find out if there is an extra charge for any special medical needs your loved one may have.

• Ask to see a copy of the most recent inspection report for the facility. Ask if the deficiencies noted have been corrected.

• Revisit the nursing home a second time, on a different day and at a different time of the day than when you first visited. Staffing can be different at different times of the day, and on weekends.

• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out if the nursing home is Medicare/Medicaid certified, if there is a waiting list, and what their visiting policies are.

Potential nursing home residents should be involved in the decision-making process if possible. However, cognitive ability, emotional issues, current state of mind, and physical status may limit a senior’s ability be an active part of the nursing home selection process. It is important to be honest, forthright and supportive with your loved one during this time. Don’t forget to keep visiting once your loved one has been admitted in order to ensure that he or she is handling the transition smoothly and that the care is of the quality that you expected.

Article by Liz Ryan 

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