Choosing a Senior Care Facility: 7 Checklists to Make It Easier

Nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, provide residents with full-time, 24/7 medical care and assistance. Residents usually live in semi-private rooms and meals are provided. Patients receive therapy and medical attention while recovering from physical and mental conditions. But with high costs of service and the importance of your loved one’s health at stake, how do you choose the right nursing home or senior care facility?

Match Recovery Needs to Facility

First, always start by matching the patient’s needs to the facility’s specialty. Each nursing home specializes in a different kind of care, ranging from dementia to surgery recovery. If you or loved one needs intensive physical therapy, find a facility focused on providing those services. Distance matters, too. A nursing home close to loved ones means more frequent visits. A facility close to primary care physicians makes check-ups easier.

The “Must-Haves”

Every party involved should feel comfortable in a nursing home decision. The patient must feel as comfortable as possible with their recovery. Loved ones should feel welcomed when visiting. Patients and their families must have the ability to get answers to important questions as they come up. A high quality nursing home provides a friendly and available staff, a calming environment, and comfortable rooms. But that’s just the basics. Here are the nitty gritty points to analyze when you make a nursing home choice.

Nursing Home Criteria

Look at Building Environment

Recovering environs can make or break a patient’s healing. Take noise levels. If announcements are blared over a loudspeaker at all hours of the day, how would one get enough sleep? Great facilities use silent pagers and other devices for notifying residents. Aids and nurses should be respectful about how much noise they make in hallways and patient rooms. The moment you walk into a facility you’ll get a good read on overall noise levels.

Make sure that hallways and common areas are clean, spacious, and well-lit. Are there specific areas designated for visiting? Can patients enjoy safe, tranquil outdoor spaces? The number of beds in a unit can tell you how hectic meal and medication times become. All areas should be accessible and equipped with handrails.

Ask About Services

Information about security and visiting hours should be provided upfront and in detail by the nursing home.

One of the most overlooked services to ask about: dining. Ask to see the food menu and the food quality. Ask the staff how the staff handles special dietary needs. Good nutrition and enjoyable food make recovery faster and easier. Ask where meals are served and when.

Personal care is equally important. Do they attend to personal needs like hair care? Find out the facility’s ability to provide transportation to and from doctor’s appointments. Ask about the frequency of laundry services.

Are there planned activities for patients? Do they match the patient’s interests and capabilities? Is the facility facilitating activities beyond just bingo and television. Do they facilitate music, art, memory games, one-on-one activities and other challenging psychological and social stimuli?

Observe the Residents

You can learn a lot about a facility by watching the residents. Try to visit during social gatherings, like meal times. Look to see if patients are happy, dressed appropriately, and engaged with each other and with staff. Are they struggling to move along hallways or are they receiving assistance and care? Do staff members treat them respectfully?

When in doubt, ask a current resident or two how they’re enjoying their stay. If there are families present, as them how they believe their loved one is being treated.

See a Room

Ask to see a room. Find out if rooms are private or semi-private. If the latter, how are residents matched with roommates? Would having a roommate work for your situation, or will the patient need a private room?

Some facilities provide decorations, telephones, and TVs in the room; others allow them but do not provide them. Quality facilities are clean, spacious, and allow residents to make their rooms feel like home. Each resident should have easy access to call buttons from their bed, chair, and bathroom.

View the rest of the checklists on the Generations Healthcare blog here: