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Questions You Need to Ask When Touring a Nursing Home

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Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a big decision. You need to do your research ahead of time and come to the tour armed with a variety of questions to ask. To help get you started, we have compiled this list of essential questions to ask when touring a nursing home.

In addition to asking the questions below, you should also use your powers of observation during the nursing home tour. Pay attention to how the staff treat the residents — for instance, do they address them respectfully by name, or do they call them “grandma” or “grandpa”? Check out the food to see if it appears appetizing. Look at the residents to see if they appear well groomed and taken care of. Check the common areas to see if they are clean of debris and free of odors. Keep an eye out for grab bars and whether or not they are placed correctly in essential areas. Basically, you want to use all your senses to determine whether or not the nursing home is a good fit for your loved one.

Without further ado, here are the questions you need to ask when touring a nursing home, sorted by category:

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By New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Staffing

  • What are your resident-to-staff ratios?
  • What is your staff turnover like? Will my loved one constantly have new caregivers?
  • How much time do staff spend one-on-one with the residents?
  • Do the staff frequently work overtime or double shifts?
  • What is the daily schedule like?
  • Is the home fully staffed on weekends and holidays?
  • What steps does your facility take to make sure that you don’t hire people with a history of abuse, neglect or mistreatment?
  • Has this facility had any previous cases of medical abuse or neglect?
  • How do you respond to concerns about the care and treatment of residents? What policies do you have in place?

Medical Needs

  • Does the nursing home offer specialized care for your loved one’s conditions, such as dementia or Parkinson’s?
  • How many of your residents are on mood-altering or antipsychotic medications?
  • How do you prevent bed sores?
  • What steps does your facility take to reduce the spread of infection?
  • Can my loved one still see their personal doctor? If so, does the facility help arrange transportation to and from appointments?
  • Does your facility have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?
  • Does the facility offer other services on site, such as physical therapy or speech language pathology?
  • Do you have doctors and nurses on staff? What hours do they work?

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Meals

  • Do residents get to choose between a variety of foods for each meal?
  • Are snacks available in between mealtimes?
  • Does the staff help residents eat and drink, if necessary?
  • Can the facility provide meals for special dietary needs, if necessary?

Lodging

  • Can residents have personal belongings in their rooms?
  • How do you protect residents’ possessions, such as keepsakes and nursing home clothing?
  • Does each room have a window, furniture and storage space?
  • Can residents choose their roommates, or are they assigned?
  • Do residents have access to technological amenities such as a personal phone, a computer, a TV and internet?

Explore Nursing Home Clothing

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Activities

  • Are there a variety of activities that residents can take part in, including those who are unable to leave their rooms?
  • Do residents have a say in what activities are offered?
  • Is there an area available for outdoor recreation use? Do staff members help residents go outside?
  • What are the visiting hours and policies? Are residents allowed to receive visitors very early or late in the day, or are hours restricted?
  • Can visitors leave for a few days, and if so, is there paperwork associated with that?
  • Does the nursing home offer the religious or cultural support your loved one needs?

Certifications and Citations

  • Is the facility Medicaid and/or Medicare certified?
  • Is the home and current administrator licensed within the state?
  • Has the facility received any citations? If so, what were those citations for and have they been properly addressed?

Finances

  • Are there extra charges for other services, such as haircuts, or is the price all-inclusive?
  • If I run out of private money, will you accept Medicaid or will my loved one have to move out?
  • Will you tell me in writing what your services and fees are before my loved one moves in?

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