Questions to Ask When Visiting a Nursing Home

Choosing the right nursing home for a loved one can be difficult. Families may wonder how to make an informed decision to be sure the home will meet their loved one’s needs.

When visiting a nursing home, you may consider asking these questions:

  • What mandatory training is care staff required to complete for their job?
  • How often are staff being tested for COVID-19? Some facilities test twice a week and have adopted daily temperature checks for staff and residents.
  • What are your infection control procedures? How often are quarantined residents checked on by staff, and is therapy provided in the resident’s room? Ask how often rooms and bathrooms are wiped down and cleaned, and how social distancing is being practiced. Are these procedures being monitored and enforced?
  • How often do you provide cell phones and tablets so residents can speak with family or video chat with them?
  • Do you provide access to telehealth visits with medical providers when needed?
  • Does your staff receive specialized training on caring for residents with Alzheimer’s or any other dementia? Successfully communicating with persons with any level of cognitive impairment requires training in techniques to reduce confusion and agitation, and maintain dignity and respect.
  • Are criminal and other background checks performed on new employees?
  • What is the care staff to resident ratio? Is the staff overworked? Ask the care assistants and other staff if they work a lot of overtime and double shifts. If so, that’s a sign of short staffing that can affect patient care.
  • Is there a licensed physician on staff? Is a registered nurse always present at the facility?
  • How does the facility handle a fall? After a fall, the staff should call you immediately and discuss why it happened and whether any changes should be made (such as a chair alarm that alerts staff when your loved one gets up, or a lower bed) to protect your loved one from future falls.
  • Is there a protocol for responding to a resident’s medical emergency? The facility should be able to describe the required protocol in the event your loved one has chest pain, is bleeding from an injury, is suddenly incoherent, or passes out.
  • Is there a policy for meeting personal care needs? If your loved one is incontinent, ask how many times a day their incontinence briefs will be changed. Wounds can result if a brief is not changed and the area kept dry and clean.
  • If you place your loved one’s name on the waiting list and receive notice of an opening, how much time will be provided to respond to the notice and accept the offer to move in?

It’s so important to take the time to interview nursing home staff. The more informed you are, the more peace of mind you can have knowing your loved one will be well-cared for with skill and compassion.

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