How to Find the Best Nursing Homes – Forbes Health


After spending time with your loved one to learn about their health and wellness needs, as well as their personal preferences and wishes, schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider. “Their order [typically] initiates the process of moving into a nursing home,” says Nobles. Once your loved one is deemed qualified for placement in this type of housing, there are several details to consider.


Focus on what is most important to your loved one. Do they want to live some distance from other family members or friends, including yourself? Also, think about how often you would visit them in this new home.

“When you start the [search] process, hospital staff usually won’t give you a recommendation,” says Fukushima. “Instead, they may give you a list of places they’ve worked with, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not necessarily in your best interest either.” Remember that your loved one is at the center of this conversation. Ask them where they would rather be and go from there.

Often, when a person is hospitalized and unable to return to their former independent lifestyle, they are discharged to any local facility that has a room available, with little choice. However, if you have visited places before and have a list of favorite places, they may offer your loved one a choice that includes an option on that list.

Fukushima adds that it’s also important to consider your role in the equation. “If you are the [health care] a power of attorney or carer and you live 30 miles away and want to visit them often, how are these details taken into account? Weigh those factors as well,” he says. “People [often] use proximity to the hospital as a goal, as they will not be transferred [your loved one] in a place too far away, but consider your location, [too].”


Many states are permanently increasing the minimum staffing provisions for nursing homes out of necessity born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, so be sure to check your state’s requirements and confirm that any nursing home nursing you are considering meets these standards.

It is also important to find out about staff turnover and the type of staff who leave most often. “High management and staff turnover suggests job dissatisfaction and unresolved internal issues,” Nobles says. “High staff turnover also affects continuity of care and can make it difficult for staff to get to know residents.”

Size and vibe

A 2017 review in Healthcare Management Review believes that facility size is an important indicator of quality of care. When exploring retirement home options, try to find one that’s large enough to suggest appropriate funding, but small enough to create a home environment that’s suited to your loved one’s needs.

Speaking of environment, if your loved one lives in a nursing home with other happy, contented residents, you’ll likely see a similar disposition in them. A 2020 literature review in Public Health Reviews suggests that increased autonomy, opportunities to participate in the community, and greater solidarity among other residents are associated with better quality of life and well-being for people living in retirement homes.

Resident well-being

Pay attention to the appearance of residents when visiting these facilities. Are they alert and engaged, or do they seem to be left alone for long periods?

Also take a look at the facility’s calendar of activities and determine if the events and opportunities they offer are age-appropriate and meet residents’ interests and abilities well. Can you see your loved one enjoying these activities? Additionally, Fukushima recommends monitoring resident-staff interactions during scheduled activities and seeing what you notice. If staff simply turn on a record player and leave the room, that is sensory stimulation, not activity.

Also, check out the property’s food options. Even better, if you have the chance to eat, try the food yourself, suggests Fukushima.

Consider your loved one’s specific needs and how they might also be met in this environment. “For example, if they’ve had a stroke and need therapy, talk to the therapist and ask them questions,” Fukushima says. “Ask them how they treat patients. Explain: “My loved one had a stroke. How would you approach them and what would you do for them? »


If you walk into a facility and immediately notice a not very pleasant smell, take that detail at face value. Cleanliness is a key indicator of the quality of a nursing home. When a community smells clean and sanitized, employees are more likely to provide a similar level of quality care to residents. Additionally, maintaining proper hygiene standards is key to keeping your loved one healthy and safe. When visiting a nursing home, ask staff about the facility’s sanitation policies and what products they use to address their top concerns.

“When visiting, use all of your senses, not just your nose or eyes,” says Fukushima. “Be observant. Look at the sick. Are they well dressed and groomed? Are their fingernails clean? Is their hair clean? Does their skin look healthy? Don’t be afraid to ask questions to staff [about cleanliness]no matter who they are.


According to the American Council on Aging, nursing home costs vary widely nationwide, falling as low as $180 a day in parts of Texas and Louisiana and exceeding $1,000 a day in parts of Alaska. Beyond location, cost is also significantly affected by whether your loved one wants a private or shared room and the extent of care they require.

Fukushima notes that daily costs for a private paying resident can vary significantly depending on their geographic location. “I would say on average the private pay rate is around $300 a day for a private room,” he says.

Meanwhile, the first 20 days of a nursing home stay for a resident with Medicare are fully covered. Then, for days 21 through 100, assuming they continue to qualify for coverage, the resident must pay a coinsurance amount of $194.50 per day, Fukushima explains. Any subsequent day must be fully covered by the resident or other means of payment.

Medicaid, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and long-term care insurance are additional options to consider when looking to reduce the costs associated with living in a retirement home on a more permanent basis.

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Services included

The main services offered by most nursing homes include:

  • Medication management
  • Coordination and implementation of medical treatment plans
  • Personal care
  • Nutritional support

Apart from these basic offerings, some nursing homes may also offer specialized care programs. For example, if your loved one has dementia, you may be able to find a nursing home with a dementia care program that trains staff to provide that specific type of care.

“A resident’s basic housing and meal needs are included in the daily fee charged by the nursing home provider,” says Fukushima. “Other clinical needs, such as therapy or medications prescribed by their health care provider, may also be taken care of by the nursing home for an additional fee.”


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