Finding the right skilled nursing facility for yourself, a family member, or a friend can be a major task, but it’s not impossible. There are lots of factors that go into making a decision, and taking things one step at a time will make the process easier.

Traditional nursing homes are different from assisted living centers, which are for people who are more independent. Residents of nursing homes typically are recovering from illness or injury or need help for health issues like heart disease, diabetes or dementia. A nursing home is suitable for someone unable to be appropriately cared for at home but doesn’t need to stay in a hospital.

Nursing homes provide their residents with daily living assistance and advanced on-site medical care. They also provide many activities like art and cooking classes, games, trips, birthday parties and movie nights. Up until recently, nursing homes had rules and a schedule for everything (waking, sleeping, eating, bathing, etc.). Now they’re moving more towards an approach of resident-centered care where residents can feel like they’re at home.


The following will help you start and focus your research:

  • Ask your local hospital for recommendations
  • Contact a social service agency and ask about nursing home choices
  • Find out if there are facilities near you that might be suitable
  • Depending on the patient’s condition, you may need to seek a specialized nursing home that deals specifically with dementia, rehabilitative physical therapy, pain management or hospice care
  • Find out which nursing homes in your chosen area are Medicare or Medicaid certified.
After you’ve found some options, go for a visit and ask yourself these questions:
  • Is the staff respectful and friendly?
  • Is the facility clean?
  • Do they offer interesting social, recreational, religious and cultural activities?
  • Can the resident choose their waking, bed time, and bathing time?
  • Is the food good? Ask to try it.
  • What are visiting hours?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Is transportation provided?
  • Do residents have sufficient privacy?
  • Can the resident decorate their room the way they want?
  • Is the temperature comfortable?
  • Do rooms have televisions and telephones?
After you’ve done your research and it’s time to make a decision be sure to get input from everyone – the patient, the patient’s doctor, family members, and use all the information you’ve gathered. With all this good information in hand you’ll be ready to make the right choice for you or your loved one.