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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, March 18, 2019

What Should I Look for in a Nursing Home?

People go to nursing homes for a variety of reasons – such as short-term recuperation from surgery or for long-term care, but no matter why your loved one needs to stay at a nursing home, you need to evaluate the factors that will affect your relative’s health and well-being at the facility. If you have specific questions about how a loved one has been treated in a nursing home, or are in need of resources, our California elder law attorney is here to help.

Level of Care

You should find a nursing home that matches the level of care that your loved one needs. By way of an analogy, you would not want to pay for intensive care unit (ICU) services when you merely have a sprained ankle. 
Nursing homes provide skilled nursing, as opposed to assisted living centers, which can offer a range of services like housekeeping and meal preparation for older people who are in generally good health. If your loved one needs daily nursing care, assistance with transferring from bed to chair or help with walking, a nursing home is appropriate.


Specific Services


A facility that specializes in memory care can be a good fit for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. People with diabetes need to make sure that the facility they select provides advanced wound care, physical therapy, specialized diets, and moderate exercise programs to help manage their disease. If the patient has a terminal condition, you might look for a facility that has a hospice wing.


A person who needs to recuperate from a medical situation, like a stroke, surgery, or an illness, should look for a nursing home that offers the specific services required for that rehabilitation. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are some of the services your loved one might need to have on-site. When people transfer from a hospital to a nursing home, the hospital staff can offer recommendations about appropriate facilities. 


Check and Verify


After you get recommendations from the hospital or your loved one’s doctor, research several facilities online to find out what people are saying about them. Be sure to check out at least three nursing homes that provide the level of care and services needed.

When you have narrowed your choices down to a short list, visit each facility multiple times. Go on different days of the week and at varying times of the day. You want to observe how the staff from more than one shift interact with the residents.

When you visit, pay attention to cleanliness, odors, and how the staff treat the residents. Drop by during mealtime and pay attention to the food. Ask yourself if you would want to eat the food they serve. Notice the size of the portions and whether the residents get plenty of liquids to drink, to stay hydrated.

Medicare and Medicaid Certification

Check to make sure that the facility has current Medicare and Medicaid certification. Meet with the person who runs the nursing home and the director of nursing services. You want your loved one placed in the care of a kind and loving nursing staff – right?

Other Factors

If you plan to visit frequently, try to find a nursing home that is convenient for you to go by after work or on weekends. Talk with your loved one about whether she wants to be in a facility that has a religious affiliation or offers specific religious services and observations. Make sure that the nursing home offers frequent activities for social interaction and to keep the residents happy and mentally sharp.

Choosing a nursing home is a decision that will affect your loved one’s quality of life. A California elder law attorney can help you evaluate your options when facing this situation.

talk with a California veterans’ benefits attorney to learn about the programs for which you are eligible and the changes in benefits for 2019.


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