Considerations When Selecting a Nursing Home for a Loved One

Selecting a Nursing Home for a Loved One

The choice of nursing home that is the best option for a loved one is often a difficult one.  Many factors come into play when considering a nursing home. The choice of nursing home should not be taken lightly as it will impact your loved one’s quality of life, health and safety.

The care needs of your loved one is a primary consideration. You should consider the level of care and the medical needs of the person. The nursing home should have properly trained staff and equipment to provide a safe environment and the required level of care. In addition, the nursing home should be adequately staffed to provide for the varying needs of its residents. Inadequate staffing is a common problem.

When visiting potential nursing homes, consider the overall appearance of the facility. Is the facility well-maintained? Does it look and smell clean? Also consider the taste and quality of the food. Ask to see a menu for the types of food typically served. If your loved one has special dietary needs, ask how the nursing home will address these needs. Visit the facility during mealtime to check the appearance and cleanliness of the dining room.

How secure is the environment?

Are the door locked with a passcode to prevent residents from wandering off unattended? How are personal belongings safeguarded? Are the entrance doors locked at night?

Determine whether the nursing home accepts Medicaid. Although many nursing homes accept Medicaid, some do not. Remember that Medicare only pays for the first 100 days and under limited circumstances. If you don’t have long-term care insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid, you will pay for long-term care expenses out of pocket. Ask for a schedule of fees and expenses and about additional charges that may be incurred.

Location is also important.

Ideally choose a nursing home whose location will allow family and friends to easily visit.

Talk to friends, and relatives.

If they have had personal experience with area nursing homes and whether those experiences were positive. You should also talk to elder law attorneys, discharge planners, physicians, or other healthcare providers for recommendations of suitable options. After you have narrowed down your search, visit Nursing Home Compare, Medicare’s website that provides ratings based on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. The website is located at

This is certainly not a complete list of considerations and questions to ask. For a more exhaustive resource, see Medicare’s publication Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long Term Care  The importance of visiting and spending time at the facility rather than solely relying on information from the internet or facility marketing information cannot be over emphasized. It is a good idea to make one or two unannounced visits on different days and times. Above all, ask questions. If something does not appear right or your gut feeling tells you a particular facility is not a good fit for your loved one, consider another facility.

If you have questions about nursing home facilities, paying for long-term care, or how to qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits or Veterans Benefits in Louisiana, contact Houma estate and elder law attorney John Sirois at 985-580-2520 or email him at . You can find more information on John’s website and in his book, Louisiana Retirement and Estate Planning.