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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Choosing a Long-Term Care Residence

Choosing a Long-Term Care Residence

Ask These Questions When Choosing a Long-Term Care Residence

Making the decision to move from independent or assisted living into a long-term care residence is usually never easy. But asking the questions below can help you sort through the available choices and select the best long-term care residence for your situation.

You can find long-term care residences in your zip code area on Medicare’s website, rated for quality. A five-star quality rating system gives an overall picture of individual residences and points out meaningful differences among them:

If possible, visit residences and meet their staffs. In your conversations, be sure to cover these questions:


Facility Certification

  • Is the residence Medicare-approved (certified)?


Staff Credentials

  • Is the nursing home administrator licensed by the state?

  • Does the staff possess the necessary credentials to qualify for their professions?

  • Is licensed staff on duty, including an RN for all shifts?

  • Which level of staff is available to deal with social service needs?

  • Is a licensed physician on duty during the day and on call at night?



  • Are beds currently available? If not, how long is the waiting list?

  • Is there a memory unit for those with dementia, as well as a unit for those who depend on a ventilator?



  • Is the residence close enough for family and friends to visit?

  • What are the visiting hours?


Quality of Care

  • Is a quality of care report available?

  • How are any deficiencies being addressed?

  • Are the residents clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed?

  • Is the facility clean and free of overwhelming or unpleasant odors?



  • Are there enough appropriate activities?

  • Is the temperature comfortable?

  • Are furnishings comfortable, homelike, and safe for residents and visitors?

  • Are nutritious snacks available throughout the day?

  • Is water readily available at all times?



  • Does the residence conduct background checks (including criminal checks) on all staff at the time of hire?

  • Does the residence provide ongoing education and training for staff on topics such as recognizing elder abuse, fall prevention, and other age-appropriate topics?

  • How does the relationship between staff and residents appear: warm, polite, and respectful?

  • What is the staffing ratio of CNAs to residents?


Provided Services

  • Does the residence provide rehabilitative services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapies?

  • Does the residence provide activities that promote healing and quality of life, including music and art therapies?

  • Do the residents have a choice in when and what to eat or in their daily routine?

  • Does the residence have an arrangement with a nearby hospital in case of emergency?



Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging (2015).

The Working with Older Adults course offered by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors gives professionals a practical, comprehensive understanding of health, social and financial issues that are important to many older adults, including ethical issues specific to aging. For more information, or to enroll in a class, click here.