Choosing a Good Nursing Home

Finding a nursing home for your loved one can seem like an overwhelming task.  Often there is a limited time window – your parent is being discharged from the hospital and needs extra rehab care before they can return home – and you don’t know where to start.  Of course, often the choices are narrowed considerably based on whether your insurance will cover a particular facility and whether a bed is available.  But once the list is narrowed, here are some factors that can help you in evaluating nursing homes.

Medicare Website: is probably the best evaluation site, with a wealth of data on nursing home care for nearly every facility in the country.  (Most other “find a nursing home” websites simply pull data from Medicare’s site.)  Here you can learn about:

  • Inspection Results — Results from the last three inspections by the Health Department, including any citations for deficiencies in care.  Note that it is rare for a facility to be deficiency-free; even the best places may get dinged on minor issues.  But if a facility has 10 deficiencies or more in a single survey, especially in nursing care areas such as pressure sores, nutrition, or care plans, these may be warning signs of poor care.
  • Staffing— It is also important to review the “Staffing” tab; generally speaking, higher staffing levels lead to better care.  Homes with staffing levels significantly below the State or National Average should be avoided.
  • Quality Measures – This data goes into more detail on particular care issues.  Important areas to note are Pressure Ulcers, Falls, and Weight LossPressure Ulcers (also called bedsores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers) are classic signs of neglect.  While not all pressure ulcers can be avoided, the majority arise only when the patient has been left to lie in one position for hours, which cuts off blood circulation to the skin, causing the tissue to break down.  A facility with a high number of Falls can indicate that there are not enough staff to properly monitor the residents and assist them in transferring from bed to wheelchair.  A higher percentage of residents who lose too much weight often means they are not getting adequate nutrition, because their nutritional needs are not properly evaluated and addressed, or because the facility lacks the staff to assist the residents who need help eating.

Just like any other business, a good nursing home will be responsive to its customer’s needs.  After you have placed your resident in a nursing home, the staff should communicate with you regularly about the resident’s condition and progress and address any concerns you may have.  If your concerns are not resolved, talk to the Director of Nursing or the Administrator (sometimes called the Executive Director).

If you suspect or have witnessed nursing home, assisted living or hospital abuse or neglect, contact Injury and Wrongful Death specialist H. Micheal Wright now at 480-409-2473 .

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact H. Micheal Wright at  480.409.2473,  log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area.