Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, are available to provide care for seniors and those with certain medical conditions. Choosing a nursing home for a loved one is not always easy. There is so much to consider, the process can sometimes be a little overwhelming. This guide is meant to offer the information you will need, so you will make the best decision.

Benefits of Nursing Homes

When it comes to long term skilled nursing, there are many benefits. While some seniors can live at home for many years, some need more care than their family can provide. When safety and health are in danger, seeking a nursing home is a sound choice. The following are some of the biggest benefits.

  • Integral health care services
  • Nutrition program
  • Safety protection
  • Socialization
  • Specialized health care services
  • Food and nutrition services

What to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

There are a few different things you should consider before placing your loved one in a nursing home. Research is essential when making a choice. A nursing home should have Medicare and Medicaid certification, along with being state licensed. The following are some criteria to consider.

  1. Checking for citations against the nursing home is important for making the right choice. If a nursing home has a lot of citations and failed inspections, this likely means the facilities are not offering a safe atmosphere for patients.
  2. The star rating of the nursing facility is also telling. Nursing homes are rated between one and five, with five being the highest rating that can be achieved. The star rating is based on health inspections, staff, and the quality of resident care.
  3. The condition of the residents is a telltale sign of a good or bad facility. If the residents look well cared for and happy, this is a good sign. Patients that are neglected, seem agitated, or are calling out for constant help may not be receiving the care they need.
  4. How does the staff seem? Are they warm and caring? Do they take time with each patient and practice patience in the services they provide? If you notice the staff seems overly agitated or careless, it is important to choose another facility.
  5. The safety of the facility is also an important factor to consider. The facility should have handicap access and safety additions in each patient room and throughout the premises. Numerous safety citations mean the facility is not going to be able to protect its residents. The staff should be trained in providing CPR and other life-saving measures.

Tips for Researching a Nursing Home

The above are some important factors to consider for any nursing home facility. Some research you will be able to conduct at home via the Internet and some will need to be carried out in person. Checking the record of the nursing facility is essential when choosing a nursing home.

Although learning the star rating and checking on inspection reports are essential, it should not replace visiting the nursing home yourself. It is wise to make at least two visits with one of them being unannounced. The more you spend time in the facility, the better equipped you will be to make a choice.

Most nursing homes will offer tours for those who are interested in patient placement. These tours are informative and can help you decide. It is vital you write down a list of questions to ask the director, including the following.

  • What is the staff to patient ratio?
  • What is the staff turnover rate?
  • What services are offered?
  • What is your pressure sore prevention protocol?
  • What is your infectious disease prevention plan?
  • What social programs does the facility use?
  • Can residents spend time outside?
  • What is the visitation policy of the facility?

Writing down the questions you have before meeting with the director will assist you in avoiding forgetting to ask important questions. Do not be afraid to ask seemingly uncomfortable questions. You have the right to learn the information you need.

It is wise to talk with the residents and ask them questions as well. The following offers some suggestions.

  • Are you happy living here?
  • Do you like the staff?
  • Do you like the food?
  • Do you enjoy the activities?

If allowed, sit down with residents during a meal, and see what they are eating and how they interact with one another. Do the residents seem happy? Do they appear alert or as if they are on strong medications?

Take Time in Deciding

Ideally, it is helpful to take a few weeks or even months to decide, but not everyone has this opportunity. If a decision needs to be made as quickly as possible, it is important to still attempt to research your options. Stopping in unannounced is one of the best ways to gauge a facility’s safety and staff responsiveness, though it should never be done in place of research.

Narrowing down your choices and performing a thorough comparison is the best way to make a choice. Even after choosing a nursing home, you should continue to make surprise visits and ensure your loved one is being given the best possible care available. If you notice problems, do not hesitate to report them, so your loved one is always safe and healthy.


There are many factors to consider when choosing a nursing home facility. In addition to all the above, it is important the location is a consideration. Most seniors want to be near their family and friends and long distances can become complicated. Choosing a facility that is close to friends and relatives will likely help a senior to feel more comfortable becoming a resident of a nursing home.

If plausible, allow your senior loved one to be a part of the decision process. Getting them involved in deciding will help to avoid apprehension against seeking this type of care. A senior that still has a sound mind should always have a say in who will be providing care for them in the short or long-term.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

3 Replies to “Your Guide to Choosing the Right Nursing Home for Your Loved Ones

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