How to Choose a Skilled Nursing Facility

skilled nursing facility

There are over 15,000 skilled nursing facilities in the United States.

When you’re faced with the difficult decision of choosing an assisted living center for you or your loved one, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the options.

As you’re considering which skilled nursing facility is the right fit, remember that each patient has different preferences, needs, and desires that you must consider during your search.

Keep reading to determine what to contemplate when making your decision.

Location and Size

One of the most important factors to consider is the location of the long-term care facilities you’re comparing.

If you are the one who needs care, you’ll want to be as close to your friends and family as possible. Similarly, if it’s your loved one who will be transitioning to a nursing home, you might like to be able to visit easily.

Sure, a 45-minute drive doesn’t seem like much but think about making that long commute after a busy day at work. If the facility isn’t close to you, consider one that’s near another trusted family member that will support your loved one.

The size of the facility is also essential and should be based on the unique preferences of the individual needing care.

For example, is the patient quiet and introverted or outgoing and social? Would a facility with a lot of other individuals around be the right environment for this person?

If you or your loved one is introverted, are there places that allow you to get outside and walk around? Are they safe and easily accessible?

You also must ensure that there are enough activity spaces and quiet areas to allow residents to decide what they want to do throughout the day.

Costs and Fees

While transitioning to a skilled nursing facility may not be an option, it’s vital to understand the cost and whether the stay will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance.

If the cost cannot be offset by insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Talk to the centers you’re considering about your financial situation to determine your eligibility for their program.

Always inquire about hidden fees and which services are included, such as phone, TV, transportation, a salon/barber, or other services.

Available Services

Speaking of services, which ones are important to you? Nursing homes all provide long-term care, but the available services will differ, as will health care. You must find out which ones the facilities you’re considering will offer.

Some services are essential for meeting a patient’s basic needs, while others go a long way in improving someone’s quality of life. For example, the dining experience can make a big difference in someone’s overall satisfaction with a nursing home.

Make an effort to visit the center during mealtime before making a final decision. During the visit, take note of whether residents get to select between different options during their meals.

Ask the administration if there are options for special dietary needs and whether they offer healthy snacks throughout the day. Do they help residents eat and drink if needed?

Several other activities can enhance a resident’s stay. The best facilities allow their patients to plan and select these activities.

Specialized Care

Depending on your or your loved one’s needs, you may require special health care services. For example, if your loved one has dementia, you should find a place that has a specialized space for dementia patients. If rehab is needed, an on-site rehabilitation facility would be critical.

Staff Members

A nursing home’s staff members will be the ones interacting with you or your loved one every day, ensuring your safety. For this reason, their professionalism, expertise, and attitude are paramount.

During a tour, always ask plenty of questions. Spend an ample amount of time observing the entire team before finalizing your decision.

Look for staff members who possess skilled personal and nursing care abilities and demonstrate a warm, respectful, and police relationship between the residents and staff.

Take note of whether staff members knock on doors before entering and whether they call residents by their name.

Watch for Red Flags

Now that we’ve discussed what good qualities to look for when touring potential skilled nursing facilities, what are some red flags to look out for?

Violation History

State and federal agencies strictly regulate nursing homes, but there are always inadequate facilities that slip through the cracks. By completing a little research online, you can pinpoint facilities with bad reputations.

You can use’s Eldercare Locator to search for reports on specific nursing homes by ZIP code. The tool rates each facility on criteria such as staffing and health violations, inspections, and more.

If the facilities you’re interested in don’t have many stars, you should pay close attention to their full reports.

Inaccessible Administrators

A nursing facility’s administrator will play a significant role in the care of you or your loved one. Not only that, but they’ll serve as your primary contact.

If you have trouble getting in touch with administrators during the selection process, it’s a red flag to look elsewhere.

Also, pay attention to the attitude of the staff to determine if they’re overworked, which is also a poor sign. An inaccessible or incompetent administrator can make the entire nursing facility ineffective.

Trust Your Gut

Above all, it’s essential to trust your gut as much as possible when evaluating nursing homes. Sometimes you know it’s not the right place but can’t articulate why, and that’s okay.

From the respectfulness of the staff to the cleanliness of the spaces and even the smell, remember that your impression is crucial.

Take Your Time Choosing a Skilled Nursing Facility

Whether it’s you or someone close to you who needs care, the matter deserves ample time and attention. Always do your research, ask questions, and stay positive. In time, you’ll find the perfect facility for you.

When selecting the right skilled nursing facility, make a checklist of the issues that are most important to you.

We invite you to visit MARI de VILLA to learn more about the unique lifestyles and services we offer during your search. Please fill out this form to set up a tour.