National Institute on Aging
Tips to Keep in Mind
If you need to go to a nursing home after a hospital stay, the hospital staff can help you find one that will provide the kind of care that’s best for you. Most hospitals have social workers who can help you with these decisions. If you are looking for a nursing home, ask your doctor’s office for some recommendations. Once you know what choices you have, it’s a good idea to:
Consider. What is important to you—nursing care, meals, physical therapy, a religious connection, hospice care, or Special Care Units for dementia patients? Do you want a place close to family and friends so they can easily visit?
Ask. Talk with friends, relatives, social workers, and religious groups to find out what places they suggest. Check with healthcare providers about which nursing homes they feel provide good care. Use their suggestions to make a list of homes that offer the types of services you want.
Call. Get in touch with each place on your list. Ask questions about how many people live there and what it costs. Find out about waiting lists.
Visit. Make plans to meet with the director and the nursing director. The Medicare Nursing Home Checklist at https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html has some good ideas to consider when visiting. For example, look for:
Medicare and Medicaid certification
Residents who look well cared for
Warm interaction between staff and residents
Talk. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For example, you can ask the staff to explain any strong odors. Bad smells might indicate a problem; good ones might hide a problem. You might want to find out how long the director and heads of nursing, food, and social services departments have worked at the nursing home. If key members of the staff change often, that could mean there’s something wrong.
Visit again. Make a second visit without calling ahead. Try another day of the week or time of day so you will meet other staff members and see different activities. Stop by at mealtime. Is the dining room attractive and clean? Does the food look tempting?
Understand. Once you select a nursing home, carefully read the contract. Question the director or assistant director about anything you don’t understand. Ask a good friend or family member to read over the contract before you sign it.