Things to Check When Shopping for a Nursing Home
Joseph J. Tomaino, MS., RN
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
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
8. Look into what pastoral care services are available
and whether the faith tradition of your family member is
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,
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
Joseph J. Tomaino
The Tomaino Group
Innovative and Practical Solutions
834 Heritage Court
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
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