Choosing A Nursing Home And Rehabilitation Center

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
By Mr. Noah Kaminer, Administrator

In the last Senior Circle, we explored the various reasons one may need to go to a nursing home or residential rehabilitation center. No matter what the reason however, deciding on which facility to use is a difficult decision because you want to make sure you are not only comfortable, but are also receiving the highest quality of care.

This Senior Circle will help highlight the important issues to look for, giving pointers and suggestions on how to choose a nursing home and rehabilitation center.

The first thing you should do before even starting the process is speak to a doctor. If a nursing home or rehab facility is needed after a hospitalization or surgical procedure, the doctor and the hospital can usually offer a variety of different facilities to choose from each of which offer the specific services you may need. Even if a hospital is not involved, a doctor should still be consulted to determine which therapies and treatments are necessary and/or recommended which facilities are best equipped to provide them. Often doctors won’t tell you which facility to go to, but they will tell you where not to go and that can be even more important. Once you have a short list of 3 to 5 places that are within a comfortable drive from your home, you are ready to begin your research.

Ask advice from family and friends who may have gone through this process before you. Find out what they liked and disliked about the facilities they used. Remember, however, that their loved one may have needed different treatments and therapies. Nevertheless, you can find out from them important things about the overall quality of care and the attitude of the administration and the staff members. Next, visit Medicare’s website ( for information about which facilities are approved for Medicare and what the Medicare rating is. Regardless of whether Medicare is funding the stay, through this site you can compare various facilities and find out basic information about staffing, cleanliness, overall quality, etc. This is an excellent source of unbiased information.

Go to visit the facilities which have good ratings and scores. A visit will give you the chance to see the other residents, the staff, and the facility setting. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions of the staff members, the residents, and their family members.

As you walk through the doors of the facility, pay special attention to the air quality. Facilities that have an odor of urine or strong disinfectant as you walk through the door are generally not places you want someone to stay. While you are in the waiting area, look at the interactions of the staff and the patients who come into the area.

When you meet the facility’s representative, have a list of questions prepared and make sure they are answered. Undoubtedly, the single most important question should be about the staff since this is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a facility. Particularly, you will want to know about the staffing ratio — how many skilled staff are working with how many residents. More importantly, you will want to know about the overall competency and ability of the staff. When looking at all of the different facilities, you will want to choose one that offers a high degree of competency – a place where there are quality nurses, therapists, and physicians with the necessary experience, skills, and specialties. In addition, they should be attentive to any and all needs and concerns, because that is their job. If the staff is not working hard to promote a warm friendly atmosphere, it can make the nursing home / rehab experience much more difficult for all involved.

Tour the facility, taking note of the cleanliness of the rooms, visit the therapy rooms and speak to the therapists, speak to the nurses, speak to the residents, ask them about the food, the activities, and the other amenities. Finally, the most important thing is to trust your instincts. If you think something just doesn’t feel right, something probably isn’t so keep moving down your list until you find a qualified facility that is a more comfortable, suitable match.