How Do I Choose a Nursing Home?

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there are 542 certified nursing facilities in Indiana. If you, or a loved one, are among the 2.7 million Americans who are projected to need the services of nursing homes by 2040, then it’s important to understand how to find the best facility to meet those needs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees Medicare, offers a helpful database that you can find at Medicare.gov. Once you’ve accessed Medicare.gov, click on the “Find nursing homes” link on the left side of the page. There, you’ll be able to compare nursing homes in your region. Each nursing home is ranked (from 1 to 5 stars) by the following characteristics: Health Inspections, Staffing, Quality Measures, Distance, and Overall Rating.

Once you’ve researched the facilities online and have narrowed down your search, you’ll want to take the time to meet with the staff and administration of those facilities. Request to take a tour of the facility and, as you do, be thinking of these questions:

Do the administrators and staff seem to enjoy working at the facility? Are they friendly and professional with each other? Take note of their interactions with each other.

Do the staff appear to be overworked, or stressed?

Are there unusual smells? Be mindful that a nursing facility is going to have unpleasant odors from time to time; that’s just part of the business. However, if you notice the stench of stale urine then that’s a potential red flag.

Are there activities calendars posted? Do the residents seem happy? Are they mingling in the hallways or community areas, or are they all hiding away in their rooms?

What sounds do you hear? Do you hear residents screaming, or asking for help? Can you hear activities taking place or laughter in a community room?

How does the food look? Is a menu posted in the dining area?

Do you see residents with bruising or other signs of abuse?

Many nursing facilities are places where residents can not only survive, but thrive. Finding the right facility for you, or a loved one, takes some time and energy; time and energy well-spent, I would say.

5 responses to “How Do I Choose a Nursing Home?”

  1. Thank you for your comment on looking if the staff looks overworked or stressed. My grandmother is getting very old and I think a nursing home would be good for her. I hope we can find one in the area that she will love that we will love visiting her in.

  2. I found it helpful that you mentioned that there was a federal database of medicare and medicaid nursing homes. My grandmother broke her neck a few months ago, and it has been so hard to get her to keep her neck brace on. We’ve been thinking of putting her in a care facility until her neck is more stable, because it’s becoming very stressful for my grandfather and his family. I’ll share this article with him so he can find a good nursing home for her.

  3. My grandfather is now having a hard time roaming around the house and doing simple chores. My mom liked it how you emphasized here that we should meet the staff before considering a nursing home. Furthermore, the staff should appear happy to provide quality service to their clients.

  4. I like how you talk about the staff and if they appear overworked or stressed and what to look for when hunting for a good home. My grandmother has been getting very old, frail, and difficult to communicate with. It may be time that we put her in an assisted living facility of some kind. We’ll have to research what would be best for her and what she would need exactly.

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