Tips & Tricks

How to Choose a Nursing Home for Your Loved One


Placing a parent or grandparents in a nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. You want to ensure that your loved one is well taken care of and receives the best possible care. Use this checklist to start your deep dive when touring nursing homes to help make the decision easier for everyone in the family.

Location, Location, Location

When choosing a nursing home for a loved one, it is important to consider not only the proximity to your own residence but also the surrounding area. Is it safe and clean? Are there local amenities and resources available for residents? These are all important factors to take into consideration. As such, we recommend speaking with the nursing home's executive director or a staff member about the surrounding area and gather their perspective.

This additional information can help inform the decision-making process when considering the location of the nursing home. Additionally, be sure to ask about the facility's security measures and emergency response protocols in case of any potential safety concerns in the area. Ultimately, ensuring a safe and supportive environment for our loved ones should be a top priority.

Another factor that many consider important is if there is ample outdoor space so that their loved ones can make regular visits to nature. When talking about long-term care, being close to nature is ever-important.


What is in the budget for skilled nursing facilities?

Different skilled nursing facilities offer different amenities and services. Determine what is most important to you and your family and what you are willing to pay for a nursing home.

What is the staff-to-patient ratio? How often do nurses and aides make rounds? What are the visiting hours? Is there a nurse on call 24/7? What type of security does the facility have? All of these amenities will have different costs, but you will have to decide what is right for your family.

Additionally, find out how much the nursing home costs and what services are included in that price. Some nursing homes charge extra for certain amenities or services. 

Consider the size of the nursing home

If it's too small, there may not be enough staff to care for all the residents properly. If it's too large, your loved one may feel like just another face in the crowd and could become isolated. Consider what your family members would prefer.

A smaller facility might not have larger social services but might have lower staffing levels and more on-hand nursing staff. It all depends on the level of personal care you are looking for for your loved one.

Meet the staff and gauge the reputation of all nursing homes

Meet with some of the staff members and get a feel for their personalities. Do they seem caring? Are they patient? Do they have experience working with patients who have dementia or Alzheimer's disease? This will really give you an opportunity to see the facility firsthand and get a feel for the type of long-term care they will receive. Be sure to ask questions to the staff! You are the family of a potential guest, and they will be happy to answer.

Additionally, ask around and see if anyone you know has had any experience with the nursing home you're considering. You can also check online reviews, but remember that people are more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones. 

What kinds of activities do they offer?

See what kind of activities are available for residents at the nursing home. Are there opportunities for socialization? Do they offer cognitive stimulation? Are there outings or field trips?  

It is very common for a skilled nursing facility to offer interesting activities like art classes, chair yoga, or bird watching. However, some go a step further. Have a chat with the activity director and see what their typical weekly offering looks like.

What is the visitation policy at the skilled nursing facility?

Ask about the visitation policy at the nursing home. If you wanted to drop in for in-person visits, would you be able to? Can family and friends visit at any time, or are there specific times when visitors are allowed in the long-term care facility? 

Moreover, talk to the staff about how they communicate with residents and their families. Do they use a bulletin board or an online portal to post announcements? How often do they send updates? What is their policy for dealing with complaints or concerns? 


Is the facility well-organized and clean?

Take a look around and see if the facility appears clean and well-maintained. Are the hallways and common areas cluttered? Are there any safety hazards? Pay attention to the cleanliness of the nursing home and if the facilities seem up-to-date. 

Particularly in the dining room, check to see how daily living would be. Are guests treated with care, is the space clean? How a person is treated during mealtime is an important factor in how they will experience nursing home facilities.

Additionally, as things can often get switched around in communal living situations, we recommend getting some custom clothing labels and custom name labels for your loved one in a nursing home. You can go to our website,, and created labels for all of your family member's items with their name on them. That way, if anything gets mixed up, it can always find it's way back. 

Is the facility safe?

Are the hallways and common areas well-lit? Is there a security system in place? Has it been inspected in the past year?

In case of an emergency, be sure to ask what the policy is. Find out what kind of emergency procedures are in place at the nursing home. What is their evacuation plan? Who do you contact in case of an emergency? Is there a doctor-on-call 24/7?


Choosing a nursing home for your loved one is a difficult task, but following this checklist will help ensure that you make the best decision possible. Possibly the most important consideration when choosing a long-term care facility is to visit several facilities before making your final choice and trust your gut; if something doesn't feel right, move on to another option. It's up to you, as the family member, to ensure they will receive quality care at the end of the day.