How to choose a nursing home

Choosing a nursing home for you or a family member is one of the most difficult and stressful decisions. Choosing either a short-term stay after a hospital visit or a more permanent placement can be overwhelming.  How do you choose the right place?

Here are some tips to follow when choosing a nursing home…

A good first step clearly is to be well informed, and to begin your search online is wise. However, searching online and receiving recommendations is not enough. Not to mention, there is a lot of information out there, and narrowing down your list can be a daunting task. You can use this nursing home search site to get information on choosing a nursing home that’s right for you.

Once you have narrowed down your choice to a few care facilities that you would like to consider, a visit will be your next step. As you visit a home you should keep track of the following items with a thorough checklist of things you want to evaluate:

  • Overall facility appearance and atmosphere, location and grounds
  • Observe not only the facility and staff, but also the residents
  • Check the safety of lobbies, hallways, stairs and lounges
  • Atmosphere and attitudes of staff, as well as other administrative checks
  • Medical and nursing care availability
  • Available activity rooms and activity schedules
  • Nursing home rights and personal freedoms
  • Dining areas and dietary services
  • Resident rooms and private living spaces
  • Bath and shower areas

View the full nursing home checklist with detailed tips and things to look for during your search on www.mass.gov.

Checklists and tools like the ones I listed are important because you can’t always judge a book, or in this case a facility, just by its appearance. If upon your visit, a facility does not look or smell clean, and if the residents seem poorly cared for that is probably an indication that you want to look somewhere else.

If you need help evaluating a nursing home either because you aren’t sure of what to look for, or if you live outside of Massachusetts and you are trying to find placement for a relative here I hope this information helps you make the right choice for yourself or your loved one.

What do you look for when you visit facilities? What have your experiences been? Have you used other tools to help you in your search? I’d love you hear your story.

Related links to help you assess long term or short term care facilities:
1. What is Nursing Home Care: http://www.masslongtermcare.org
2. AARP’s Advice on choosing a nursing home: http://www.aarpmagazine.org/health
3. Nursing home checklists: http://www.aging-parents-and-elder-care.com

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