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 Once you’ve accessed, 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.