Choosing a Nursing Home – A checklist

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under For Patients & Families

Visit Nursing Home Compare at for more information. This list can be found at

Name of Nursing Home:
Date of Visit:

Basic Information – Answer Yes or No

The nursing home is Medicare-certified.
The nursing home is Medicaid-certified.
The nursing home has the level of care you need (e.g. skilled, custodial), and a bed is available.
The nursing home has special services if needed in a separate unit (e.g. dementia, ventilator, or
rehabilitation), and a bed is available.
The nursing home is located close enough for friends and family to visit.

Resident Appearance

Residents are clean, appropriately dressed for the season or time of day, and well-groomed.

Nursing Home Living Spaces

The nursing home is free from overwhelming unpleasant odors.
The nursing home appears clean and well-kept.
The temperature in the nursing home is comfortable for residents.
The nursing home has good lighting.
Noise levels in the dining room and other common areas are comfortable.
Smoking isn’t allowed or may be restricted to certain areas of the nursing home.
Furnishings are sturdy, yet comfortable and attractive.


The relationship between the staff and the residents appears to be warm, polite,
and respectful.
All staff wear name tags.
Staff knock on the door before entering a resident’s room and refer to residents by name.
The nursing home offers a training and continuing education program for all staff.
The nursing home does background checks on all staff.
The guide on your tour knows the residents by name and is recognized by them.
There are licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day, including a Registered Nurse (RN) present at
least 8 hours per day, 7 days a week.
The same team of nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) work with the same resident
4 to 5 days per week.
CNAs work with a reasonable number of residents.
CNAs are involved in care planning meetings.
There is a full-time social worker on staff.
There is a licensed doctor on staff who is there daily and can be reached at all times.
The nursing home’s management team (including the Director of Nursing and the
Administrator) has worked together for at least 1 year.

Residents’ Rooms

Residents may have personal belongings and/or furniture in their rooms.
Each resident has storage space (closet and drawers) in his or her room.
Each resident has a window in his or her bedroom.
Residents have access to a personal telephone and television.
Residents have a choice of roommates.
Water pitchers can be reached by residents.
There are policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions.
Hallway, Stairs, Lounges, and Bathrooms and Exits are clearly marked.
There are quiet areas where residents can visit with friends and family.
The nursing home has smoke detectors and sprinklers.
All common areas, resident rooms, and doorways are designed for wheelchair use.
There are handrails in the hallways and grab bars in the bathrooms.

Menus and Food

Residents have a choice of food items at each meal. (Ask if your favorite foods are served.)
Nutritious snacks are available upon request.
Staff help residents eat and drink at mealtimes if help is needed.


Residents, including those who are unable to leave their rooms, may choose to take part in a
variety of activities.
The nursing home has outdoor areas for resident use and staff help residents go outside.
The nursing home has an active volunteer program.

Safety and Care

The nursing home has an emergency evacuation plan and holds regular fire drills (bed-bound
residents included).
Residents get preventive care, like a yearly flu shot, to help keep them healthy.
Residents may still see their personal doctors.
The nursing home has an arrangement with a nearby hospital for emergencies.
Care plan meetings are held with residents and family members at times that are convenient
whenever possible.
The nursing home has corrected all deficiencies (failure to meet one or more Federal or state
requirements) on its last state inspection report.

This is just the beginning. Make sure you plan on visiting at different times of the day and night to make sure that this is the place you would want your loved one to live. And after the person moves in, make sure you keep visiting at random times so the staff knows you are watching out for your loved one.

Have a kind and respectful day.

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