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What to look for when you tour a nursing home

A lot of the questions that I get on a daily basis deal with what to look for when touring a nursing home for the first time. There are several areas that can tell you a lot about the overall quality of the home.

One of the first things that you may notice when you walk in the front door is the smell. This is a major indicator of the quality of care in a facility. If you walk in and immediately smell urine, that is not a good sign. This usually means that residents are not getting the care they need on a timely basis. The occasional smell is ok, however, this needs to be confined to limited areas or when someone is being changed.

Another good indicator of the condition of the common areas where residents and families congregate. Are there residents there sleeping or zoned out? This may be a sign that there is not an adequate activity program available. Is the area clean and well lit? Are there lights out? Are trash cans overflowing? The small details can tell a lot about the overall management and condition of the facility.

All nursing homes must post staffing numbers. Most states require a minimum number of staff per resident. Check with your local department of community health to get that ratio. A good rule of thumb is to have one nurse and three to four nurse aids per 25 residents. This figure can change based on the needs of the individual residents on the hall.

The main thing to do is to get out there and tour the homes before you admit your family member. Take your mom or dad with you. See how the staff interacts with them. Make an informed decision and you and your elderly relative will enjoy their stay at the facility a lot more.