Making a choice to live in a nursing home is not easy. It can be an overwhelming emotional decision.
A nursing home can provide care that an individual cannot provide on their own, so whether you are making this decision for yourself or others, it is not a decision to be made lightly.

You need to do careful research, so that you can make an informed decision. Making a decision as big as this one is simply best not done in haste.

If you find one that you like, there is no guarantee that you can get in immediately. Waiting lists do exist for many of the better facilities.

The first step in choosing a good nursing home is to ask your doctor and a hospital social worker. They may be able to provide you with a list of homes.

The next step is to ask your friends, family, former co-workers, and church members (any other persons in your social network). They may be able to provide you with personal experiences that may not be available in any written report.

The third step is to visit homes that seem suitable and are located conveniently. On your initial visit to the home, take with you a written list of questions you want answered (if the questions are in written form, you won't tend to forget to ask questions that are important to you). Don't be afraid to ask these questions of the staff, the nursing home administrative staff, and the residents.

The questions should include:

1. Is the staff friendly? Do they appear to get along with each other?

2. Do the staff and residents interact well?

3. Do the residents appear clean? Is their hair neatly combed (brushed)? Are they clean - shaven?

4. Do the residents appear to interact with each other and take part in the activities?

5. Does the home appear to be clean? Are there any unusual smells? Is there an odor of heavy disinfectant? (perhaps to mask less pleasant odors)

6. Is the neighborhood safe? Would I feel safe taking a walk around the outside?

7. Are there any fresh plants or flowers?

8. Is the furniture comfortable and in good repair?

9. Are the calendars and clocks up to date and in working order?

10. Are the hallways well lit? And do they appear to be wide enough for wheelchairs and people to pass each other comfortably?

11. Are there activities and crafts that I would enjoy?

12. Is there a minister (rabbi or other religious leader) who visits the home and is he/she available to pray (or talk) with?

13. Is the dining room arranged to allow easy access to residents with wheelchairs?

14. Is the bathroom clean? Does the bathroom have handicap available items such as grab bars and handrails?

15. Is the shower/bath area clean? Are there nonskid mats available?