Visit the nursing homes you’re considering
After you consider what’s important to you in a nursing home, visit the nursing homes. It’s best to visit the nursing homes that interest you before you make a final decision on which one meets your needs.
A visit gives you the chance to see the residents, staff, and the nursing home setting. It also allows you to ask questions of the nursing home staff and talk with residents and their family members.
If you can’t visit the nursing home yourself, you may want to get a family member or friend to visit for you. You can also call for information, but a visit can help you see the quality of care and life of the actual residents.
Use the "Nursing Home Checklist" when you visit
Take a copy of the Nursing Home Checklist [PDF, 304KB] when you visit to help you evaluate the quality of a nursing home. Use a new checklist for each nursing home you visit.
General things to consider when you visit:
- Does the nursing home allow me to participate in social, recreational, religious, or cultural activities that are important to me?
- Is transportation provided to community activities?
- Does the nursing home offer private spaces for me when I have visitors?
- Who are the doctors who will care for me? Can I still see my personal doctors? If my personal doctors don't visit the nursing home, who will help me arrange transportation if I choose to continue seeing them?
- What does the quality information when comparing nursing homes show about how well this nursing home cares for its residents?
- Will the same nursing home staff take care of me day to day or do they change?
- How many residents is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assigned to work with during each shift (day and night) and during meals?
- What type of therapy is available at this facility? Are therapy staff available?
- What types of meals does the nursing home serve?
Ask the nursing home if you can see a menu.
- Can I get food and drinks I like at any time? What if I don't like the food that's served?
- Does the nursing home make sure residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy? Are specialists, like eye doctors, ear doctors, dentists, and podiatrists (foot doctors), available to see residents on a regular basis? Does the facility help make arrangements to see these specialists?
Nursing homes must either provide treatment, or help you make appointments and provide transportation for you to see specialists.
- Does the nursing home have a screening program for vaccinations, like flu (influenza) and pneumonia?
Nursing homes are required to provide flu shots each year, but you have the right to refuse if:
- You don’t want the shot
- You've already been immunized during the immunization period
- The shots are medically contraindicated
- How will I get access to oral care in the nursing home?
- How will I get access to mental health care in the nursing home?
- What is the nursing home's policy for the use of anti-psychotic medication in dementia patients?
Important things to know when visiting nursing homes:
- Before you go, call and make an appointment to meet with someone on staff. You're also encouraged to visit the nursing home at other times without an appointment.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
- Ask the staff to explain anything you see and hear that you don't understand. For example, if you hear a person calling out, it may be because they're confused, not because they're being hurt or neglected.
- Ask who to call if you have further questions, and write down their name and phone number.
- If a resident or a resident's family wishes, you may talk to them about the care offered at the facility and their experience.
- Don't go into resident rooms or care areas without asking the resident and nursing home staff first. Always knock first and ask a resident before entering their room. Residents have a right to privacy and can refuse to allow you to come into their rooms.
- After your visit, write down any questions you still have about the nursing home or how the nursing home will meet your needs.