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Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.                    KJV (Joshua 1:9)


Nurses are more
Than people in white.
They are mediators,
between human suffering
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Where what they do
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What is seen.

E. V. Stankowski, RN
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Title: Ten Things to Check When Shopping for a Nursing Home
Author: Joseph J. Tomaino, MS., RN

Visit Website:

Nursing Home Compare is a web-based service provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to help consumers compare different nursing homes. The information is based on findings by surveyors during the annual inspection performed in every nursing home that participates in the Medicare program.

The information can be obtained at the CMS Nursing Home Compare website. When you access this information, however, keep in mind that it sometimes is more than a year old. Also, facilities with excellent track records sometimes experience a problem on survey which may be written up in a manner that makes it appear widespread. Likewise, a facility with only an average reputation may be able to get through survey without any major findings and appear better than it deserves. The information is helpful, but needs to be validated with a site visit.

When you visit a facility, follow these ten steps to getting the information you need.

 1. Insist on touring the nursing unit where your loved one would likely be placed--don't just tour the lobby and dining room.

2. Speak to the nurse in charge on the unit and ask how the unit is staffed on all three shifts.

3. Observe residents, especially for how they are dressed and groomed, and whether or not there are any odors.

4. Try to meet a family member and ask them how well the facility responds when there is a problem.

5. Watch the residents as they are assisted with lunch or dinner--does there appear to be enough help?

6. Check if the facility allows 24 hour unannounced visiting by families--always a good sign that they have nothing to hide.

7. Ask what rehabilitation services are available for long term residents, and not just for the short term rehabilitation patients.

8. Look into what pastoral care services are available and whether the faith tradition of your family member is represented.

9. Interview the medical director and ask whether intravenous fluids, antibiotics, etc. are available to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations for brief illnesses.

10. Trust your instincts--would you feel comfortable living in the facility yourself? If not, you probably will not be satisfied with your decision to place your loved one in the facility.

For more information on nursing homes and how to choose the best one for your loved one, visit

Copyright, 2006 All rights reserved, Joseph J. Tomaino, The Tomaino Group, 834 Heritage Court, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

About the author:
Joseph Tomaino is a patient care executive, educator, and consultant. His business, The Tomaino Group, provides consultative services and products that support the cost effective provision of quality patient care in acute, sub-acute, long term care, and home care settings.

Joseph J. Tomaino
The Tomaino Group
Innovative and Practical Solutions
834 Heritage Court
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

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Choose Another Article Below or Return to Article Index Guide


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Five Steps to Effective Infection Control in Long Term Care


Ten Things to Check When Shopping for a Nursing Home


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