Making a decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is never easy. If your loved one is no longer able to safely live on his or her own, it may be time for a nursing home, and choosing the right one can be very challenging. Here’s how to find a good assisted living facility in 10 questions:

10 Assisted Living Facility Considerations:

  1. Is the facility certified and accredited?

    The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is a non-profit organization that inspects, accredits and certifies health care organization and programs across the country. If a facility you’re considering has been accredited by JCAHO, it means that it has satisfied a strict set of quality control and safety guidelines, making this one of the most important questions to ask an assisted living facility. Medicare also provides another important certification, which is crucial if you’re expecting this financial assistance, as Medicare only pays for facilities that it has certified.

  2. What are the official policies?

    Just because one facility has an open-door policy for visitors, don’t assume they all do. Ask for a print-out of all the facilities policies.

  3. What are the facility’s security and safety precautions?

    Do your best to find out the facility’s plan for keeping your loved one safe and secure. For example, does it have its own hospital transport? If not, what is the average time for an ambulance to reach them?

  4. What are the staffing ratios?

    You can see state-by-state staffing data for individual facilities on the Long-Term Care Community Coalition website. In many ways, the staff at a nursing home becomes a surrogate family to the patient. You’ll want to spend time talk to as many nurses and aides as possible to find out their attitudes toward the residents and how they work together.

  5. How long do nurses and aides spend with residents each day?

    You want the best care for your loved one and this is a critical question to ask. In addition to time spent with residents, find out who comprises the staff. Is there a social worker? How many RNs are on duty? Does the nursing home have its own doctor or one who is always on call?

  6. What kinds of activities are available?

    Find out what the daily schedules are like and ask about any unscheduled activities. For example, can residents use an arts and craft room even when something isn’t scheduled? What about a gym or pool? That way you’ll be able to find a place that will appeal to your loved one’s interests.

  7. What type of preventive care is offered?

    Not only do you want a nursing home to care for your loved one’s current condition, but you also want to make sure they’re doing all they can to keep a resident’s health from declining. Ask about preventive care programs, like a program for flu and pneumonia vaccinations.

  8. How does the food look and taste?

    Ask to enjoy a meal yourself in the cafeteria to get an idea of how the food looks and tastes. Just because the meal meets the dietary requirements doesn’t always mean it’s palatable. Can residents order off a menu daily, or does the kitchen only prepare a couple different recipes a day?

  9. Do you provide special care for people with dementia?

    Memory care means much more than just a locked unit to prevent residents from wandering. Staffing ratios should be higher in this area. These facilities should include around the clock care by caregivers who have special training in dementia care, and the awareness and sensitivity to address these needs.

  10. What is the fee schedule?

    After quality of care, cost is probably the next biggest factor in choosing a nursing home. That’s why it’s important to understand what is and isn’t included in the fee structure. Don’t assume that things like meal choice, gym access or physical therapy are included in the monthly rate.