How To Choose The Right Nursing Home For A Loved One

It usually isn’t a pleasant experience when a beloved family member is moved to a nursing home. However, it may become a necessity based on the person’s needs, especially he or she requires round-the-clock care, or special medical attention. Unfortunately, for some nursing home patients, the difficulty of this move doesn’t end once they’re settled in at the facility.

All too often, the search for a proper nursing home is hastened, and some important factors of a good nursing home can be easily overlooked. This list will hopefully serve as an aid to those currently looking for the right place for their loved ones.


Your search for the right nursing home will of course begin with Location, as you will shop around various facilities within your local area and hopefully near your own neighborhood. However, keeping family close by is just one aspect of choosing a good location. You may also want to consider the nursing home’s distance from hospitals and emergency care in the event your loved one needs higher level medical services at some point. Try to choose a facility with a good location, but check out all of the options in your neighborhood before choosing the best.


Medical Facilities

Once you’ve narrowed your search by gathering a list of potential facilities in your desired locale, you’ll want to check into each nursing home’s medical facilities. Some nursing homes are superbly well equipped with the latest technology, highly trained medical staff and even laboratories. Others may only have the bare necessities. Considering which facilities to choose based on their medical assets will certainly depend on the type of care your loved one needs. Don’t settle for anything but the best medical care as it pertains to your family member’s health.

Seek Out References

While many nursing homes will typically offer you a multitude of positive references and patient testimonials, you may want to find some references about each potential facility on your own. Talking to co-workers, friends and their families about some of your potential choices for nursing homes may help you tune in to some word-of-mouth references for the nursing homes. Talk to staff members at local clinics and hospitals as well, as many of them have at least some knowledge of local nursing homes and their reputations.

Reviews & Ratings

Once you’ve begun narrowing your search further by looking into medical facilities and nursing home references, you can take to the web and dig up each facility’s reviews and ratings. It’s best to take this step only after you’ve gathered some good reference info and word-of-mouth, because that information is often much more valuable than online reviews – and it will help you gauge the credibility and consensus of reviews on the web. Make sure to conduct a thorough search of the reviews and feedback about each nursing home you’re considering. Look at both positive and negative reviews as well as any info about legal proceedings currently underway against any of the homes (big red flag).

Staff Attentiveness

At this point, you should have a small handful of potential nursing homes. It’s time to pay them each a visit in person and check out the facilities. During your visit, you’ll be watching and listening intently. Keep your eyes on the staff, and your ears on the patients. It’s also important to evaluate the staff-to-patient ratio. Try to find out the exact number of staffers working on each shift if you can; and what kind of hours they’re working. Overworked nurses in an understaffed facility is a major deal-breaker.

Think about how your loved one will be cared for while you watch and listen. Are the patients’ needs being met promptly and with caring attention? Is the staff genuinely concerned and involved at all times? Are there tools and methods in place for tracking and maintaining each patient and their unique needs? Walk around a bit (where allowable) and watch and listen. Ask yourself if you feel that your loved one will be well attended at that facility and make your choice with that in mind.


Finally, one of the most important concerns for choosing the right nursing home is cleanliness. Sanitation and hygiene are of utmost importance in any medical facility. You don’t necessarily need to hold your potential nursing homes in comparison to the pristine sterility of a hospital operating room, but they should be clean, neat and tidy, free of offensive odors; and the staff should be visibly practicing proper cleanliness and hygiene – both for themselves and their patients.

Frank Cristiano is a Legal Blogger and Medical Malpractice Attorney in Denver CO

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