Choosing a Nursing Home


Choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one can be a daunting task. Most of us know to look for cleanliness, pricing, kind and adequate staff, and location, but have you considered resident independence? As an individual ages, he or she may experience physical and cognitive limitations, and it is important to make sure he or she can make as many choices as possible. Nursing home residents who perceive that they have choices, report higher satisfaction with their care.1 As you explore nursing homes, ask yourself the following questions to help you decide whether or not the nursing home fosters independence.

Are there a variety of meaningful activities to choose from most days of the week?
Are residents able to choose activities that they do and do not want to attend?
Are residents able to choose how they want to structure their days?

Are residents offered a variety of foods for each meal?
Are residents offered foods that are appealing and nutritious?
Are residents able to choose which foods they do and do not want to eat?

Resident Rooms
Are residents’ personal belongings safe and secure?
Are residents able to bring items from home to make the room homelike?

Resident Care
Does the resident have the ability to contribute to his/her own care?
Are the concerns of the resident listened to and incorporated into his/her care plan?
Is the resident able to say “no” to treatments?

Clothing and Laundry
Are residents able to bring many of their own clothing items to the nursing home?
Is there adequate space to store clothing?
Are residents wearing clean clothing that is also in good repair?
Are residents wearing clothing that is properly buttoned/zipped/snapped?

Read more about the importance of laundry and clothing in nursing homes in this article.

In addition to the list above, this checklist will help you determine if a nursing home is right for your loved one. Visit the Maryland Healthcare Commission’s Consumer Guide to Long Term Care to explore nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice, and home health agencies.

1Bangerter, L. R., Heid, A. R., Abbot, K., & Van Haitsma, K. (2017). Honoring the everyday preferences of nursing home residents: Perceived choice and satisfaction with care. Gerontologist, 57, 479-486.