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How to Choose a Nursing Home- Part 7

The four steps to take in order to decide which nursing home may be best for you are:

Step 1: Find nursing homes in your area;

Step 2: Compare the quality of the nursing homes you’re considering;

Step 3: Visit the nursing homes you’re interested in or have someone visit for you; and

Step 4: Choose the nursing home that meets your needs.

Step 3: Visit the nursing homes you’re interested in or have someone visit for you.

Before you visit any nursing homes, consider what’s important to you.

Health & fire safety inspection reports

  • Does the nursing home have the most recent health and fire inspection reports for me to look at?
    Note: Ask the staff to provide these reports. They tell you how well the nursing home meets federal health and safety regulations. The nursing home must have the report of the most recent state or federal survey of the facility available for you to look at. Reports can also be found on most state agency websites, as well as on Nursing Home Compare at

Resident, family, & satisfaction

  • Can I talk to staff, residents, and family members of residents? Will I be able to ask them if they’re satisfied with the nursing home and its services?
    Note: Any resident or family member of a resident has the right to refuse to talk to you. However, staff should be able to visit with you if they’re not involved in care or service duties at the time. Also, many facilities have staff, resident, and family satisfaction surveys. You may want to ask to see the most recent survey results.

Visit the nursing homes

After you consider what’s important to you in a nursing home, visit the nursing homes. It’s best to visit the nursing homes that interest you before you make a final decision on which one meets your needs. A visit gives you the chance to see the residents, staff, and the nursing home setting. It also allows you to ask questions of the nursing home staff and talk with residents and their family members.

If you can’t visit the nursing home yourself, you may want to get a family member or friend to visit for you. If a family member or friend can’t visit for you, you can call for information. However, a visit can help you see the quality of care and life of the actual residents.

Important things to know when visiting nursing homes

  • Before you go, call and make an appointment to meet with someone on staff. You’re also encouraged to visit the nursing homes at other times without an appointment. If a nursing home doesn’t offer a “drop-in” policy, this is another issue to think about when making your final decision.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Ask the staff to explain anything you see and hear that you don’t understand. For example, if you hear a person calling out, it may be because they’re confused, not because they’re being hurt or neglected.
  • Ask who to call if you have further questions, and write down the name and phone number.
  • If a resident or a resident’s family wishes, you may talk to them about the care offered at the facility and their experience.
  • Don’t go into resident rooms or care areas without asking the resident and nursing home staff first. Always knock first and ask a resident before entering their room.
  • Residents have a right to privacy and can refuse to allow you to come into their rooms. After your visit, write down any questions you still have about the nursing home or how the nursing home will meet your needs.

To be continued….
Aaron E. Futterman, CPA, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of Futterman & Lanza, LLP with offices in Smithtown, NY and clients throughout Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Richmond, New York, Westchester and Rockland Counties. He concentrates his practice to Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, Medicaid Applications, Estate Planning, Probate, Estate Taxes, and Estate Administration.

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