Our “Nursing Home Checklist” will help you find a skilled nursing facility that will provide a wide range of health and personal care services for you or your loved one.
Choosing a nursing home is one of the hardest decisions we have to make for ourselves and to our loved ones. The fact that we need to move to a nursing home means that someone is in a vulnerable position and will be dependent on the facility.
Moving to a nursing home can create a major change in our lives, or our elderly loved one.
If your loved one is mentally alert and can make choices, be considerate and ask them their wishes. It is very important to acknowledge their opinion to consider in the decision process; however, if they cannot make a decision due to some impairments, you will need to decide on your own what is best for them.
Use this nursing home checklist as a guide while you visit several nursing homes.
Print this checklist for every facility you visit to record the answers you receive from administrators. Take great notes about your feelings and observations, then compare the lists to help you choose the best nursing suited to your loved one’s needs.
CHOOSING A NURSING HOME CHECKLIST
Here are some things to ask when selecting a nursing home. Make sure you ask detailed questions during your visit or consultation. If possible being a relative or a trusted friend to get a second opinion.
Name of Nursing Home: _______________________________________
Phone Number: ________________________________________________
Date of Visit: ___________________________________________________
Is the Nursing Home Medicare-certified?
Is the Nursing Home Medicaid certified?
What is the nursing home’s star ratings on Medicare.gov?
Is the nursing home current administrator licensed in your state?
Is the nursing home’s location close enough for friends and family to visit?
Is the nursing home accepting new residents?
Is there a waiting list for new residents? How long does it take to get admitted?
Do they have an available bed?
How many residents does the facility have?
Does the nursing home offer physical therapy, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, or other rehabilitative services on site?
Do they offer specialized services, like a special care unit for ventilator care or a special unit for residents with dementia?
Does the nursing home provide religious or spiritual services programs?
Are there specific resident policies that must be followed?
Does the facility have a written copy of these policies?
What are the admission and discharge policies?
Who decides the type of care each resident need and receive?
How is medical care determined?
Are there doctors who come to the nursing home, or do residents keep their own doctors?
Can residents still see their personal doctors?
If needed, does the nursing home help arrange transportation for this purpose?
Does the facility arrange transportation to medical appointments, or does the family assist with that?
How will the resident’s family know that a different level of care is needed for their loved one?
Does the nursing home facility have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?
How are medical emergencies handled by the facility?
How are non-emergency medical situations like falls handled by the nursing home?
How do the nursing home schedule visits from physical therapists, occupational therapists, medical specialists, and physicians?
Does the staff have specialized training to deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?
Is there a special unit or special program for residents who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?
How does the staff handle problems like disorientation, agitation, and wandering?
How are prescriptions filled and refilled?
How is medication disbursed?
How are medications managed?
What is the visiting policy?
Does the facility have specific policies and procedures regarding the care of residents with dementia?
Do they use nonmedication based approaches as a first attempt to respond to behavioral symptoms?
What percentage of residents diagnosed with dementia use antipsychotic medication?
What’s the facility’s current rate of antipsychotic medication use?
Does the facility participate in any efforts to reduce antipsychotic medication like the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Center?
What kind of certification does the nursing home staff have?
Is there sufficient staff available on a 24-hour-basis?
How many registered nurses work in the facility on each shift?
Is there a licensed nursing staff available 24 hours a day?
Are there Registered Nurse present at least 8 hours per day, seven days a week?
Do Certified Nurse Aides help in planning the care of residents?
How many staff are assigned during the weekdays? Weekends? Evenings?
Does the facility have a training and continuing education program for all staff?
Do staff members wear nametags?
Do residents have the same caregivers daily?
How do the staff speak and interact with the residents? Are they friendly and kind?
Does the relationship between residents and staff warm, polite, and respectful?
Is the staff respectful of residents’ privacy?
Do the staff close the door when helping residents bathe and get dressed?
Do the staff knock on the resident’s door before entering their room?
Do staff refer to residents by name?
Is there staff to meet residents’ social service needs?
Will the staff call the doctor if the residents have a medical need?
Is there an interpreter available or another system in place to help residents who speak another language?
Does the administrative staff have a turnover in the past year?
What is the turnover rate on the administrative?
What is the resident-to-staff ratio at the nursing home?
Are residents clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed for the season or time of day?
Does the nursing home perform a background check on employees to make sure there is no history of abuse or mistreatment of
residents in the state nurse aid registry?
Are employees required to complete any kind of continuing education or ongoing training?
Does the facility offer an abuse prevention training program for employees?
Does the nursing home have policies on prohibiting abuse and neglect?
Is the nursing home keeping the residents safe from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation from staff?
Is there information and policies about how to report concerns about the care and safety of residents?
How does the facility respond to concerns that are reported?
Has the nursing home been cited abuse and mistreatment in the last year or two? How do they fix the problem?
NURSING HOME APPEARANCE
Does the nursing home facility appear clean and well kept?
Is the nursing home free from unpleasant odors?
Does the nursing home have good lighting?
Is the temperature in the whole facility comfortable for residents?
Are there quiet areas in the nursing home where residents can visit with family and friends?
Are the noise levels comfortable in the dining room and other common areas?
Are the furniture and fixtures sturdy, yet comfortable and attractive?
Does the nursing home have handrails in the hallways, rooms, and bathrooms?
Is it easy to get from the room to a common area and dining room?
Is the resident room, doorways, common area designed for wheelchairs?
Do the hallways and bathrooms have handrails and grab bars?
Are exits clearly marked in the nursing home?
Does the facility have smoke detectors and sprinklers?
Are there generators on-site in case of weather-related or electrical emergencies?
Is there a secure outdoor area?
Do they have emergency procedures for residents?
Where will the residents be placed local government declares a mandatory evacuation due to emergency?
Are there recent changes made to the facility? Why were they made? Any future improvements being considered?
How many residents are there in one room?
If a resident shares a room, will she be able to choose a roommate?
Does the nursing home have policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions, including lockable cabinets and closets?
What are the things allowed when moving in?
Can residents bring personal belongings and furniture in their rooms?
Is there a closet or storage space available with locks?
Do the residents have access to the internet, a television, and a phone? Is there an extra fee for these services?
Do the bedrooms have a window?
FOODS & MENUS
Do residents have a choice of different food items at each meal? Do they serve appetizing foods?
Can residents get timely assistance if they need help with eating?
Can the kitchen accommodate residents with religious or medical dietary needs (like low-salt or no-sugar-added diets)?
Can residents eat in their rooms rather than in the dining room?
Are snacks offered throughout the day?
Are nutritious snacks available?
Do the residents choose what time to get up, go to sleep, or bathe?
Does the nursing home have outdoor spaces for residents’ use?
Is there staff available to help residents go outside?
Do residents help plan the activities that are available?
Can residents (including those who are not able to leave their rooms), participate in a variety of activities?
Does the nursing home facility offer religious or cultural support to residents? If not, what arrangements will make to provide these needs?
Does the nursing home facility have an active volunteer program?
Can you have visitors at any time – even in early or late hours?
Does the nursing home allow residents to leave the facility for a few hours or days if they choose to do so? What are the procedures for leaving?
What services are covered by the nursing home, and how much do they cost? Are payment plans all-inclusive or tiered?
How does the nursing home bill its residents? Is it a monthly paper bill, or do they accept electronic payments?
Are there extra charges for services, like beauty shop or laundry services?
Will the nursing home provide the cost of services, charges, and fees in writing?
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A NURSING HOME
Location is one of the most important considerations when selecting a nursing home. It is important that you choose a nursing home that is close to your home as possible so that you and your family can visit frequently.
Different nursing homes provide different services and provide different levels of health care. You will need to identify the level of care your loved one needs to be able to choose the nursing home at fits their needs.
Try to visit the nursing home during meal times to see meals and menu. The dining experience will make a big difference in the satisfaction of nursing home residents.
Check to see if the facility provides specialized health care services, depending on the resident’s needs. Does the nursing home have a specialized unit to care for dementia patients? If your loved ones need rehabilitation, it would be best to have a rehabilitation unit on-site.
Observe the nursing home staff because they will be the ones to ensure your loved one’s health and safety. The staff’s attitude and professionalism should be on the top of your list to consider when choosing a nursing home.
Nursing care is not cheap!
Look for a nursing home you can afford. Understanding the monthly cost of nursing care is important. Ask for the cost of care during your first visit so you won’t get caught out by any unexpected fees.
Ratings & Review
Research what other people are saying about the nursing home. Make sure and do a Google search and to see any ratings and reviews on the facility you are considering.
If you’re considering a Medicare or Medicaid certified facility, go to Medicare’s Nursing home compare website.
If you see an icon of a red hand next to the facility’s name, it means the nursing home has been cited for abuse.
STEPS TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT NURSING HOME
1. Do a Google search.
2. Go to Medicare’s nursing home compare website and see the ratings.
3. Talk to family and friends. Ask for recommendations to find out the places they suggest.
4. Call different nursing home facilities. Ask basic questions, then ask for an appointment.
5. Visit the facility. Ask the questions in the checklist to get a better idea about the nursing home. Try to bring a family member or a trusted friend with you during the visit.
6. Visit the nursing home again without an appointment. Time your visit during mealtime. Check the dining room area and see if the food looks tempting.
7. Evaluate the nursing home based on the checklist and notes you’ve made. Select the one the suits your loved one’s needs.
Choosing a nursing home can be a challenging process. Do your research and follow this guide to find the perfect nursing home for you or your loved one.
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