What to look for in a Nursing Facility



Use the following checklist to assist you in assess nursing homes. If possible, both the caregiver and care recipient should be involved in the decision making process. The more an older person participates in the planning process, the easier it will be to adjust to the new environment.

The Facility

  • Are there handrails along the walls?
  • Are the doorways wheelchair-accessible?
  • Does management take safety precautions to prevent residents from falling down stairs?
  • Is the floor kept dry and free of litter?
  • In case of fire, can the facility be easily evacuated?
  • Are fire extinguishers easy to locate?
  • Does the facility appear clean?
  • Are there lingering odor?
  • Do the faucets, call buttons, telephones, and television sets work?
  • Are heating and cooling adequate?

Staff and Care

  • Is the atmosphere pleasant?
  • Do staff seem to genuinely enjoy working with the residents?
  • Do staff appear to care about and respect residents?
  • Are residents treated as individuals?
  • Do the staff appear interested in the residents?
  • Do staff seem interested in speaking to visitors or residents?
  • Are your questions answered clearly, frankly, and in sufficient depth?
  • Do any other residents have conditions similar to your elderly relative’s?
  • Are residents clean and adequately dressed?
  • Do staff appear to refrain from making unrealistic promises or predictions?
  • Are the rights of the residents clearly posted?
  • Is the food hot, attractive, and tasty?
  • Are special diets available? What kinds?
  • Does a resident have plenty of drinking water easily available?
  • Are planned, posted, and varied recreational and social activities available?
  • Do the listed activities seem interesting and appropriate?
  • Do most of the people at an activity program seem to be participating?
  • Are religious services held weekly?


  • Is the facility in good standing with the state inspectors?
  • Are fees competitive?
  • Have fees increased significantly in the past few years?
  • Is the structure easy to understand and reasonable?
  • Does the institution readily reveal what service are covered in the quoted fee?
  • What services are extra?
  • Is Medicaid accepted? Is Medicare accepted?
  • Are billing and accounting procedures understandable and acceptable?
  • Is transportation of patients provided?
  • Does a resident advisory council exist?
  • Are visiting hours reasonable?
  • Are therapeutic services available? (Speech, physical and occupational)
  • Are social work services or other mental health services available?
  • Are community organizations (library, church group, volunteers) involved?
  • Do the charge nurses, social workers, department heads, and top-level administrators have geriatric experience and/or education?


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