How to Select a Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Jul 07, 2015

People may need to go to a nursing home for a number of reasons that may include sickness, weakness, rehabilitation after an injury or surgery, or for around-the-clock care and supervision.

In the United States alone, there are approximately 1.4 million elderly adults living in nursing homes. Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that is far too common in the United States today, so it is vital that you take every precaution necessary.

When selecting a nursing home for your loved one, there are a number of steps that you can take to help provide you with the knowledge and confidence that the nursing home you are selecting will provide your loved one with quality care.

Advice on How to Select a Nursing Home

  1. Research and compare.  When selecting a nursing home for your loved one, it is important to research each and every facility that you are considering, compare the facilities to one another, and select the nursing home that will be the best fit for your loved one.
  2. Check Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare Website. When you visit the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website, you will be asked to follow these steps:
    1. Type in the location. You can search either via Zip Code, City, State, or State
    2. A list of nursing home results will appear.You may compare up to 3 nursing homes at a time.
    3. Check the ratings. The Medicare website provides information and ratings on nursing home information, overall rating, health inspections, staffing, quality measures, and distance.
    4. Check the information related to health inspections summary, number of certified beds, Medicare and Medicaid participation, ownership, and whether or not the facility is within a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).
  • Talk to people you trust, including family, friends, and physicians.  Ask for recommendations. Talking to people you trust who have experience with nursing homes and long-term care facilities in your area is an easy and dependable way of obtaining first-hand objective knowledge of the facilities that you are considering. Don’t forget to speak with healthcare professionals, including your loved one’s primary care physician, about options in their area.
  • Visit the facility. Visiting the facility that your loved one may reside at either temporarily or permanently may be the most important measure to take when choosing a nursing home that is the right fit for your loved one.Take an official tour, but also show up unannounced. You want to gain a better understanding of how the facility operates on a day-to-day basis, without outside influence or supervision affecting the facility’s routine.
    1. Check the hallway. Are there potential hazards? Does it look like an engaging and supportive environment?
    2. Check the room that your loved one will be staying in. Is it conveniently located to the bathroom and other facilities? Are there hazards, such as mold, broken windows or doors, debris, or water on the ground?
    3. Check the cafeteria. How clean is it? What type of food do they serve?
    4. Ask to speak with staff members. It is important to gauge the level of friendliness, compassion, and knowledge that nursing home staff members have.
    5. Read through their safety procedures and protocols. Do they implement their safety procedures and protocols? What is their plan in case of emergencies?
  • Evaluate the facility with all of your senses. Listen at how the staff treats the residents. Listen to the residents. Are they happy? Are they calm? Visually observe the facility and the residents. Are there potential hazards? Are the patients over-medicated? Do the residents appear to be enjoying their time there? Are they kept clean, well fed, and well hydrated? Taste the food. Is it nutritious? Is it good quality? Smell the facility. Does it smell of unclean? Can you smell ammonia? Touch the doors, windows, tables, and beds. Are they in good condition?
  • Ask to meet with charge nurses, doctors, and/or therapists. It is always a good idea to know who will be treating your loved ones. It is also a good idea to introduce yourself so they know who to contact if there is an emergency. The more contact you have with the charge nurses, doctors, therapists, and staff, the more likely they are to contact you as soon as they have concerns.
  • Check whether or not a management company runs the facility. If a management company runs the facility, you should also check the Medicare score for each of that company’s facilities.