7 Things You Should Look for in The Right Nursing Home

Making the transition to a nursing home marks a major life change for both residents and families. Use this guide to simplify your nursing home hunt and give your loved one the best possible experience.

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Making the transition to a nursing home marks a major life change for both residents and families. You want assurance that your loved one will be safe, comfortable, and cared for. But with countless options available, how do you even begin to find the perfect fit? What should you look for in a top-notch nursing home? What signs might indicate lower-quality care or possible neglect? Asking the right questions and knowing which factors are most important can steer you toward the nursing home that becomes a true home for your loved one. Use this guide to simplify your nursing home hunt and give your loved one the best possible experience.

1. Compassionate, Trained Staff

Without question, the quality of staff makes or breaks a nursing home. Kind and competent nurses and aides have the biggest impact on residents’ happiness and well-being. Caring staff members work to know each resident as an individual and tailor care based on personal preferences. Signs that staff truly connect with residents, like laughing together or using pet names, are telling. Beyond having a caring attitude, staff should be appropriately trained and certified for their positions. Do not assume this is the case – vet their qualifications thoroughly. Nursing staff should have an active registered nurse license. Ongoing training on dementia, psychosocial needs, and managing behaviors allows staff to provide personalized, dignified care. Ask about the facility’s training requirements and protocols. If issues ever arise, be aware of your options for suing a nursing home for negligence to protect your loved one.

2. Safe and Comfortable Environment

Look closely at the nursing home’s physical space during your tour. Does it feel homey and pleasant or clinical and cold? The environment plays a huge role in quality of life and should nurture comfort and community. Size up furnishings, cleanliness, lighting, dining spaces, and common areas. Are residents able to easily access amenities, or does the layout impede independence? Look for personal touches, too, like picture collages or artwork made by residents. A homelike environment sparks warmth. And, of course, the facility should be impeccably clean without any odors throughout. It drastically reduces infection risks. Pay attention to how proudly or apathetically staff discuss maintenance and housekeeping.

3. Nutritious and Appetizing Meals

Be sure to check out mealtime during your nursing home tour, as eating right impacts physical health and quality of life. Chat with the facility’s dietitian to learn about the culinary program. Do they offer appetizing choices and accommodate preferences and restrictions? Seasonal, high-quality meals made from scratch using fresh ingredients make all the difference. The facility should gladly provide samples so you can taste-test yourself. Beyond nutritional quality, the dining experience itself nurtures the community and gives residents something to look forward to. The environment should feel warm, unrushed, and never chaotic.

4. Engaging Activities and Amenities

Daily activities tailored to residents’ interests are vital for nurturing purpose and boosting moods. Look for nursing homes that offer interactive social events, exercise classes, cognitive stimulation, and recreation to match residents’ needs. For example, group nature walks, baking clubs, trivia, arts and crafts, reminiscing sessions, and live music create meaningful engagement. Keeping the mind and body engaged leads to better health. To allow flexibility based on moods and functional levels, a strong activity program offers options rather than a rigid schedule. Getting out into the community for a change of scenery through outings shows an activity director actively listens to residents. Also, look for specialty amenities like fitness centers, game rooms, libraries, salons, gardening areas, or technology centers.

5. Licensed, Regulated, and Reputable

Never assume that just because a nursing home is operational, it meets all regulations or standards of care. Do your homework to ensure the nursing home is licensed by your state’s health authorities. Reputable facilities readily provide their license number and inspection results. In fact, high-quality nursing homes go above and beyond basic compliance. They adhere to industry best practices for senior living. Additionally, nursing homes must comply with federal nursing home regulations that uphold resident rights and protect against abuse and neglect. Though standards exist, it is smart to ask how the nursing home specifically avoids lapses in care that lead to poor outcomes or danger for residents. Highlighting their abuse prevention protocols and transparency about incidents at the facility leads to accountability. Choosing a licensed, accredited nursing home with clean inspection results gives you confidence and security.

6. Customized Care Planning

Truly person-centered care looks at each resident as a whole human being, not just a collection of health issues and diagnoses. Make sure your nursing home takes the time to develop specialized care plans based on each resident’s needs, background, preferences, family situation, and personality. Comprehensive care planning should start from day one with open conversations between staff, the resident, and family members. Input from all parties ensures care is specially molded to improve health and honor individuality. Care plans become essential guides that travel with residents even if they transfer rooms or require hospital visits.

7. Family Involvement and Communication

A nursing home becomes an extension of family for residents. So choose a facility that embraces family as partners in care, not just visitors. Ask about their communication style. Do they engage families through care conferences, newsletters, resident outings that welcome loved ones, or open houses? Look for a nursing home that truly listens to and acts upon families’ needs, even encouraging loved ones to raise concerns. No question is too minor. In fact, speaking up helps the facility continuously improve. The right nursing home also keeps families informed about changes to treatment, medications, or health status.


Selecting a nursing home may feel daunting when faced with so many options. But, stay organized during your search, take notes after touring facilities, and listen to your intuition. With this guide steering you toward the hallmarks of exceptional care, finding the right nursing home becomes totally achievable. Before you know it, you will walk through the doors of a facility that just “feels right.” Eventually, that perfect nursing home will transform from an evaluation checklist into a true home for your loved one, filled with compassion, dignity, and joy. The search is worthwhile, so embrace it as a journey toward enhanced care and comfort.

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