How To Choose The Best Nursing Home

It is never an easy decision to have to put your loved ones in a nursing home. You want to ensure that they get the best care possible and that begins with doing some research and finding a good nursing home before you ever need one.


The experts recommend that families look into government records and do inspections and research on facilities themselves. It’s important to never rush into choosing a facility. Given that some people can be taken quickly from the hospital to a nearby nursing home, it’s even more important to do a bit of research ahead of time just in case. You don’t want to be learning about a nursing home as soon as your loved one is sent there.


Here’s all the information and tips you need to choose the best nursing home when the time comes.


Consider the Quality Rating

Nursing homes in the United States are rated by the U.S Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They are rated on a five-star scale with one star being the lowest and five being the highest. These ratings take three main elements into account; Health inspections by state and federal employees, ratio of staff to patients, and quality measures in place in an individual facility. This rating is a great way to get an initial idea about the quality of a nursing home.


Conduct an In-Person Visit

Some nursing homes have major flaws that people can only notice if they visit in person. Perhaps the home is short-staffed or they are serving bad quality food to residents. There are also nursing homes that are prone to infections. This is why it is important that you visit a home well before you need to use it so that you can find an alternative if necessary.


Take an Online Tour

Thanks to modern technology there’s no need to go through the paper files at a state regulatory office. Almost all the research that you need to do on different care homes can be conducted at home through online reports and ratings.


The best source for online research is the Nursing Home Compare service by Medicare. There’s also the Nursing Home Inspect service by the non-profit ProPublica. ProPublica offers more information and data about nursing homes, including full versions of government reports that put the rankings for different facilities into perspective.


Location, Location, Location

A good tip for finding the right home is to find a facility that is close to friends and loved ones, provided that the facility still has a high rating. Don’t immediately choose the closest nursing home to you without first doing some research on it. Being placed in a home near to friends and family means that a resident has more regular visits. It also tells employees that they are under greater scrutiny to properly care for your loved one because you plan on being around a lot.


Look at the Residents Living There

One subtle way to gauge how good a nursing home is would be to look at the other residents that already live there and see the conditions they live. Listen to the hallways. How do the people living there look? Are they unkempt and kept in dirty clothes? Have they been well taken care of, with clean nails and hair?


Families need to carefully observe the environment of a nursing home. They should ask themselves if it is nice and calm and quiet or if it’s clearly a mess. Assess how residents and even staff look and consider talking to residents and asking them how they are being cared for. If you have your loved one with you then use the time to make friends for a more comfortable transition. It will be easier on both you and your loved one if they know they are going somewhere they will be taken care of.


Observe Staff at the Home

As well as observing patients, be sure to observe staff. See how well they treat residents and if they know their names. One of the sad realities of nursing home care is the potential for elder abuse. There have been several cases of this serious issue reported across the world. You have to choose a facility where you know your loved ones will get the care and attention they deserve. They deserve nothing but the best. That’s why you have to do the research and find a nursing home that takes care of their residents. Choose one that doesn’t have any lawsuits in their past, present, or future.


Lawsuits related to wrongful death and negligence of patients have drastic impacts on a nursing home. Research can help you find facilities that do – and more importantly don’t – have a history of patient abuse. The more research you put into a facility or company before choosing them, the more peace of mind you have that you are making the right choice to entrust your loved ones to them.


Medical Care

Different nursing homes offer different levels of medical care. Some homes will have in-house medical staff on hand who can provide care. Other facilities don’t. You should consider the kind of care that your loved ones will need. Choose a home based on their needs that can cater to them. Not everyone will need an on-staff medical provider, but if your loved ones do then don’t settle for less.


If, for example, your loved one is a falling or accident risk, then it would definitely help to be housed at a facility with an in-house doctor. If they are in good health and are close to their regular physician, then they should be fine in a standard care home without 24/7 care.



Not every nursing home is created equal. Different ones have different activities and amenities for residents and they can be an important factor in choosing the right home. A good care home should offer things such as the chance to exercise and socialize with other residents. We all need a little stimulation and older and infirm people are no different.


It may be difficult for your loved ones to settle in and really feel like the care home is “home” if they don’t have anything to do there. The kind of amenities that matter to you will depend on the condition if the resident. Talk to them about things they would like out of a care home and, again, find one that suits their needs too.



Check out the different rooms in the nursing home and take a tour to get a good feel for the place. Do the rooms seem comfortable and like a nice place to live? Do they have any technology to make things easier and more fun for residents? You want to choose a home that has nice rooms. The more you like a room the more likely your loved ones will. They are going to have to spend a lot of time in their room after all. You want to make sure that you choose the right one.


Medicare for Nursing Homes

Medicare can help to cover the costs of living in a nursing home, but the rules around that are fairly complicated. Under set guidelines and circumstances, Medicare Part A – which covers hospital insurance – offers coverage for short-term stay in skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes. Be sure to double check your Medicare Advantage plan to see what it says for you.


The whole process begins with a doctor’s order. Doctors may send a loved one to a nursing facility so that they can receive specialized care or rehabilitation after spending time in a hospital. If they have suffered from a serious injury or a stroke then they could be sent to a facility for continued care and recovery.


In these cases, Medicare can cover a portion of the costs for up to 100 days stay in a skilled nursing facility. The rules say that the patient has to be admitted to their nursing facility within 30 days of having left the hospital. They must also have been an inpatient with the hospital for at least three consecutive days. On top of that, the care they receive at the facility must be for the same condition or injury that they were in the hospital for – or something related to it. As you can see, these guidelines really are very specific.


Please note that Medicare doesn’t cover continuous nursing home stays. In order to qualify for another stay in a nursing home, the patient must not have been receiving skilled care or have been hospitalized within 60 days of their last stay. After spending three consecutive days in a hospital they can then qualify for up to 100 days of partial coverage for a nursing home stay.


Final Thoughts

It’s never an easy decision to make to not just decide to put a loved one in a home, but find the right home for them. Keep these tips in mind, do some research, and get input from the future resident to make the best possible choice for all involved.