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How to Choose the Right Nursing Home for Your Loved One

Close-up of a senior individual’s hand holding a wooden cane, with a younger person’s hand resting on top of the senior’s hand.Choosing to move a loved one to a nursing home can be challenging both emotionally and practically. You want to be sure that your parent or relative receives personalized care, lives in a safe and engaging environment, and has their needs met adequately and in a timely fashion.

Finding an ideal place is not easy, especially considering how common nursing home neglect is. However, there are specific variables to consider when assessing the quality and trustworthiness of these facilities. Here is a closer look at what you need to consider.

What to Look For in a Nursing Home Facility

There are different options for getting care for a loved one. The two most common are nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These are similar in some ways, but they provide different levels of care.

An assisted living facility will offer accommodations, food, and services, such as laundry and cleaning. They also provide a social environment for seniors who would like to interact with others. Residents in these facilities do not require much direct care.

A nursing home facility, on the other hand, is a long-term care facility for those who need specialized care on a daily basis. Those suffering from age-related chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, can get the personalized care they need from registered healthcare providers in these facilities.

Whether you should take your loved one to a nursing home or assisted living facility largely depends on how independent they are and how much care you would like them to receive. If you believe your loved one is incapable of going about their day unassisted, then a nursing home facility may be your best option.

When choosing a nursing home facility, there are some of the things you should consider:

Location and Size

Your loved one will want to see their family from time to time, so you will want a nursing home that is close enough that you can visit. You will also want to check in to ensure that your family member is getting adequate care. If the site is too far away, this could be difficult.

The facility’s size also matters, particularly when it comes to the ability to offer one-on-one care. Smaller homes may be better able to provide personalized care to their residents because the staff-to-resident ratio is low. If a facility is large, make sure there is sufficient staff to offer the same one-on-one attention.

Smaller facilities are also quiet, which is something your loved one may value. On the other hand, a large venue may offer better socialization opportunities and activities. However, you need to ensure personalized care if you opt for a bigger home.


A good nursing home facility should offer recreational activities and fitness services for its residents, as well as providing daily support and direct healthcare.

Seniors who are engaged and active are better able to cope with the effects of aging and maintain a higher level of mental and physical wellbeing.

These additional quality-of-life services may include fitness programs, activities that promote sensory and cognitive health, and social activities and events. Many homes also facilitate regular outings for seniors who are physically able to leave the site.


The staffing of a nursing home facility is yet another critical consideration. Does the facility conduct criminal background checks on its staff? Many states require nursing homes to run background checks for healthcare workers and employees who directly contact residents or have access to their records and living quarters.

You should also consider the turnover of employees. Repeated staff changes can be disruptive to the well-being of residents. They will fare better when they have the time to get to know staff members and learn to trust them. The staff-to-resident ratio is yet another essential consideration you should make. A nursing home facility should have enough qualified staff to provide an appropriate level of care to each resident.

Furthermore, if employees quit frequently, it could be a sign of underpaid staff or poor work conditions. These factors could also impact the treatment of residents and their overall quality of life. Observe how the staff members interact with residents. Are they friendly and engaging? Do they respond to residents’ requests and interact with them?


Sometimes the best way to assess a facility is to get input from current residents and their families. What is the facility’s reputation among previous tenants? It is possible to ask people in your social circle or look at online reviews from multiple sources. Look for facilities that have consistently good reviews across various sites. Remember that you will still need to visit the venue to verify the positive reviews for yourself.

You will need to make sure the facility is licensed and accredited by the state’s department of health. State-level agencies should list accredited homes somewhere on their official government website.

Consider Specialty Care Facilities

Some seniors need special care, such as respite care, dementia care, or palliative care (if they have a terminal illness). In these cases, consider moving them into a specialty care facility instead of a general nursing home.

Not only will they receive specialized care that meets their needs, but they will be with other seniors in a similar situation, providing social opportunities and support.

Questions to Ask the Nursing Home Staff

While visiting a nursing home, you can ask specific questions to assess the quality of care.

  • What is the turnover rate for staff?
  • What is the facility’s staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What social and recreational services are offered by the facility?
  • Is the facility licensed and accredited by the required state and federal agencies?
  • What kind of security system does the facility have?
  • Is there an arrangement with an ambulance service and hospital for emergencies?
  • Can the facility help residents see their current doctors and medical specialists?
  • What is the nursing home’s policy for administering medication?

Common Red Flags in Nursing Homes

You will want to look for positive attributes when assessing a nursing home, but you should also keep an eye out for red flags. There are visible symptoms of neglect and abuse in a nursing home that you should be aware of so that you can see warning signs before it is too late.

Here are some of the most common red flags for nursing home abuse or neglect risk:

  • An unclean facility with unsavory smells, such as body odor;
  • Residents who look fearful or do not interact with staff;
  • Staff members who do not interact with residents or ignore them;
  • A high staff-to-resident ratio;
  • A lack of clear abuse and neglect prevention policies;
  • A lack of information about social and recreational services;
  • A lack of a clear visiting policy;
  • Low food quality or a lack of healthy food options;
  • Unclean common areas inside the facility.