Checklist: Questions to ask when choosing a nursing home
Here are some things to ask and contemplate when choosing a nursing home. Make sure you take your time, ask many detailed questions, and if possible, try to bring a trusted friend or family member with you during a visit or consultation.
Types of care, services, and payment options
- Is the nursing home Medicaid or Medicare certified?
- What kind of care and services does the home provide? Is it what I need?
- Does the nursing home have a special wing or unit for memory care, short-term rehabilitation, and/or ventilator care?
- How does the home bill its residents? Is it a monthly paper bill or do they accept electronic payments?
- What services are covered and how much do they cost? Are payment plans all inclusive or tiered? Get the cost of everything in writing.
- Has the nursing home been cited for any types of abuse or neglect? Go to Nursing Home Compare to see if the facility has gotten any citations over the past three years. If the facility has been flagged, ask the administrators about it and how they fixed the problem.
- Who determines the type of care residents need and receive? When a different level of care is needed, how will the resident and family members be informed?
- How is medical care determined? Are there doctors who come to the facility or do residents keep their own doctors?
- How are prescriptions filled and refilled?
- How is medication disbursed?
- Does each resident get to choose when to get out of bed and start their day or is there a set schedule for everyone to follow?
- What kind of meals are served? Does the kitchen accommodate specialized meals, for religious or dietary reasons? If needed, does the staff help residents eat?
- What kinds of activities are available?
- Does the home arrange transportation to medical appointments or does the family assist with that?
- What is the visiting policy?
- What are the admission and discharge policies?
Facility layout, ambiance, residents
- Is the facility clean and well-lit? Do you detect any odors? Is it attractive to you? Is it warm and enticing?
- How is the temperature in the building?
- How are the noise levels?
- How is the layout of the various floors? Is it easy to get from your room to a common area?
- Are there handrails in the hallways, rooms, and bathrooms?
- Are the furnishings comfortable?
- How do the residents look? Are they well-groomed and dressed?
- How many residents to one room?
- What are you allowed to bring when moving in?
- Is there closet or storage space available? Do they have locks on them?
- Do the residents have access to a telephone and a television? Is there an extra charge for these services?
- Is there a secure outdoor area?
- What are the demographics like? Will your loved one feel like they fit in? Will the staff be sensitive to any non-traditional family arrangements?
- What kind of certification does the staff have?
- What kind of staff are available on a 24-hour-basis?
- How many registered nurses work there on each shift?
- How the staff speak to and interact with the residents? Are they friendly and kind? Is the staff respectful of residents’ privacy?
- How does the staff enter a resident’s room? Do they knock? Do they close the door when helping residents bathe and get dressed?
Other general questions
- Does the nursing home have a bed available now, or is there a waitlist?
- Is the location convenient for visits from friends and family?
- What are some recent changes made to the facility? Why were they made? Any future improvements being considered?
- Are there generators on site in case of weather-related or electrical emergencies?
- What are the emergency procedures?
- Where will the residents be taken if the state or local government declares a mandatory evacuation?
- Does the nursing home provide religious or cultural services and programs?
By Kaya Laterman