Checklist: Questions to Consider When Choosing a Nursing Home

When choosing a nursing home, the most important issues to consider are your level of comfort and the level of care provided.

It may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

Facility

  • Does the facility appear clean and orderly?
  • Does the facility smell good, or does it smell strongly of unpleasant odors, such as urine or deodorizer?
  • Is the layout of the facility easy to understand and remember?
  • Is there a single nurses’ station or are there multiple nurses’ stations?
  • Does the facility have a contained outdoor area?
  • Do the rooms have features you desire, such as windows or a television?
  • Are the common rooms clean and well maintained?

Services

  • Does the nursing home offer social activities that you’re interested in?
  • Does the nursing home provide housekeeping and laundry services?
  • Does the nursing home have a volunteer program?
  • Can residents manage their own schedules, such as when to wake up, eat, and go to bed?

Medical care

  • How are medications managed?
  • How are medical emergencies handled?
  • How are non-emergency medical situations handled, such as falls?
  • How are visits from physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical specialists, and physicians scheduled?
  • Does the staff have special training to deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s?
  • Is there a special unit or special programming for residents suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s?
  • How does the staff handle problems like wandering, disorientation, and agitation?

Staff

  • Do people working at the facility seem warm and welcoming?
  • Do staff members seem helpful, attentive, and patient?
  • Do staff members interact with residents kindly and respectfully? Do staff members refer to residents by their names?
  • Do staff members wear nametags?
  • Do staff members knock before entering a resident’s room?
  • How many people are on staff during weekdays? Weekends? Evenings?
  • Do residents have the same caregivers on a daily basis?
  • Does the nursing home run background checks on staff members to make sure they haven’t been found guilty of abuse or neglect?

Residents and facility culture

  • Do current residents seem happy and comfortable?
  • Are residents well groomed and properly dressed?
  • Do residents socialize or interact with each other?
  • If you are considering sharing a room, do you think you and your roommate will get along? If not, are there other options for who you might be able to live with?

Meals

  • If you have religious or medical dietary needs, can the kitchen accommodate you?
  • Do you have the option of eating in your room rather than in the dining room?
  • Do residents who need help eating get timely assistance?
  • Are snacks offered throughout the day?