How to Evaluate a Nursing Home

How to Evaluate a Nursing Home

It is often difficult to make the decision to place a member of your family in a nursing home. Taking the time to research, visit, and thoroughly evaluate the nursing home will give you peace of mind and provide your family member with a higher quality of life.

Part 1 Researching the Nursing Home

1. Look for nursing homes on the internet. Begin by conducting an online search for nursing homes in your area to get a sense of your options. Eldercare Locator, Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), Centers for Independent Living (CILs), and Medicare Offices are excellent resources for locating services. Basic preliminary research will provide you with an idea of what is available for your family member. Examine the websites of nursing homes in your area to determine which ones provide the medical services and attention that your family member requires. This research can be used to compare prices and determine your price range.

Investigate information on specialised care. Make sure the nursing home provides specialised care if your family member requires it, and inquire about how they separate specialised care residents from non-needy residents.

2. Examine online reviews. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few nursing homes, look for reviews online. There are websites, such as Yelp, where people who have used services can rate their experience. There are also numerous blogs and retirement and nursing home websites that include reviews from residents and their families.

3. Determine the quality of the nursing homes you are interested in. To compare the quality of nursing homes, go to the Medicare website in the United States. The website includes information such as the number of residents, licenced staff, whether the home is for profit or not, and other basic information. The website also informs you whether the home is Medicare or Medicaid certified. There is also an overall rating and detailed information on inspection results to give you an idea of the nursing home’s safety, care, and health.

4. Call the nursing homes’ references. Inquire about references from the nursing home of your choice. You can contact their references and request information on resident families to get a sense of what residents and their families think of the nursing home you’re considering. If a family member claims that they were neglected in a nursing home, you may want to reconsider using that nursing home.

5. Visit your state’s nursing home complaint registry. Every time someone files a complaint against a nursing home for reasons such as abuse or neglect of residents, it is documented and filed. The process of obtaining public records varies by state.

This information is available on the state government’s website in some states (such as Oregon and Minnesota).

If you can’t find the complaint registry online, you can email, call, or visit the department in your state in charge of nursing home complaints (usually the Department of Health or Human Services).

Visit to search Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare.

6. Look for information on nursing homes in the media. Search online news databases for the nursing home’s name to see if it has been mentioned in the news for anything negative. Choose a nursing home that has been the subject of news stories about residents being abused, neglected, or duped.

7. Find out if it accepts new residents. Once you’ve decided on a few nursing homes, contact them to see if they’re accepting new residents. It’s pointless to visit a nursing home that doesn’t even accept new residents.

Part 2 Visiting the Nursing Home

1. Examine the nursing home’s external environment. When you arrive at the nursing home to pay a visit, take note of the surroundings. Take note of the town and the security outside the nursing home. Is it possible for someone to break into the nursing home? The house should be located in a quiet and safe neighbourhood, rather than a noisy and dangerous part of town.

2. Take a look at the furniture and décor. You want your family member to live in a beautiful environment. This could be where they spend their final years of life, so you want them to be in a happy environment. The mood of an environment can be greatly influenced by its décor. Choose a location where the decorations and furniture are attractive, well-designed, and pleasing.

3. Take note of the safety requirements. All safety devices in the home should be in good working order. Smoke detectors, handrails, sprinklers, and bathroom grab bars should all be operational. Inquire about the medical staff and what happens in the event of an emergency. Is there a regular assessment of the residents by a medical provider such as a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or nurse? Do they dial 911? What is the procedure in the event of an emergency?

Check to see if they are Medicare and/or Medicaid certified.

4. Take note of the smell. Because of the nature of the environment, nursing homes may have an unpleasant odour. A strong odour, particularly of urine, may indicate that the nursing home is not being cleaned properly.

Inquire how frequently diapers are changed. They should be changed as needed, but no more frequently than every two hours.

5. Learn about the visiting hours. The visiting hours should be when you are available, not when you are always busy or have a commitment. The hours should be clearly posted at the residence. If you don’t see the visiting hours posted, you can inquire with the staff.

Don’t be afraid to inquire. When you visit a nursing home, you can use a “Nursing home checklist” to inquire about the residents’ lives. You can find the list at

6. Try some of the food. When you visit the home, take a look around the cafeteria and ask if you can try the meal that is being served. If you or a family member believes the food is of poor quality or tastes bad, the home is unlikely to be a good fit. Because appetites naturally decline with age, nursing home food should be visually appealing as well as tasty.

If you are unable to sample the food, observe the residence during a meal. If you notice several residents barely eating their food, this is a bad sign.

In order to get a sense of what foods are served over time, request a weekly menu.

Inquire whether a nutritionist is on staff to ensure that residents’ nutritional needs are met.

7. Pay attention to what the residents are called. It’s a bad sign if residents are only addressed by generic terms like “Grandma.” The staff may not have taken the time to remember the names of the patients. It could also indicate a lack of respect for the residents if they did not take the time to ask what they want to be called, which is most likely their first name, title, and surname.

8. Talk to and pay attention to the employees. Inquire how frequently they work and how long their shifts are. Employees who work a lot of double shifts and appear tired and stressed may reflect on how the nursing home treats their residents. Check to see if there is a lot of staff turnover. If people do not stay, it is likely that the facility is run inefficiently.

Take note of how the staff members interact with one another. Employees who are rude to one another may also be rude to their residents. Instead of gossiping amongst themselves, the staff should be focused on the residents.

9. Take note of how the residents spend their time. Residents who are up and about are a good indication that they are not confined to their rooms all day. You want a nursing home with a daily activity calendar or activities that can be brought to the residents’ rooms if they require it. Take note of the residents’ moods and whether or not they appear to be in a good mood.

Part 3 Checking on Your Family Member

1. Examine for bruising. Don’t automatically assume that any bruise indicates abuse, but look for finger-shaped bruises and bruises in places where you don’t normally get bruises when you fall (such as the face, stomach, or back).

2. Check for bedsores. They may be unavoidable as your loved one ages, but they are not always. Bedsores should not be present in a family member who is capable of walking around, getting out of bed, and not refusing food. If you notice bedsores, ask the staff why your family member isn’t getting out of bed and why they’re staying in the same position for so long. If your loved one is confined to a bed, find out how frequently they are rotated.

3. Take note of how the staff handles emergency situations. Take note of how the staff responds when a resident falls. Check to see if they are checking for injuries and keeping a close eye on the resident. How were you notified if your parent fell or had a medical emergency? How long did it take them to notify you? Did they dial 911? Were doctors able to help your family member right away? If you believe a medical emergency was handled improperly, don’t ignore it.

4. Speak with a member of your family. Inquire about your family member’s experience at the nursing home. Inquire about their impressions of the food, social activities, staff, and environment. Take note of whether or not they appear to be happy. If they have a complaint, don’t dismiss it. Discuss it with the staff; it may be a simple fix.

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