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Critical Questions for Choosing a Nusing Home Cheat Sheet by

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For many people, the need to select a nursing home for a loved one comes as a surprise and there is not enough time for a detailed evaluation of the facili­ties. When the transition of a family member can be antici­pated, it is best to refer a more detailed checklist. But when one does not have the luxury of time, this checklist provides the most important factors to look for in a skilled nursing facility.

A nursing home is the highest level of care for older adults outside of a hospital. Nursing homes provide what is called custodial care, including getting in and out of bed, and providing assistance with feeding, bathing, and dressing. However, nursing homes differ from other senior housing facilities in that they also provide a high level of medical care. Skilled nursing care is available 24 hours a day. Other medical profes­sio­nals, such as physical therap­ists, social workers, dieticians are available. Thus medical procedures and therapies are available that not be possible in other housing.


Where are the state inspection reports, known as “2567” reports? They should be easily accessible to the public. If not, the facility can be cited.

Your needs

What’s the facility’s track record for your special needs? For example, if your relative wanders, has the facility been cited for residents walking away? If your loved one is bedridden, what is its track record on pressure sores?


What type of insurance does the home accept? If Medicare runs out, does the facility accept Medicaid for patients who qualify?


How strict is the facility’s routine? Some residents find comfort in schedules; others want flexib­ility for things such as meal times.


If the facility has been cited for serious violat­ions, what changes were made to prevent future problems? If the Rating facility is well-r­ated, how did it get there?


Visit during a meal and look at the food, the residents and the staff. Is the food tempting? Are residents engaged or waiting for help? Is there an altern­ative meal selection?


Are pets allowed? What about visitors who want to bring pets?


Can residents decorate their rooms as they wish?

Family input

Will the resident and family members be involved with develo­pment of care plans?

Specia­lized help

What about special accomm­oda­tions — religious services, social activi­ties, transp­ort­ation to community activi­ties?

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