What are you looking for?

Information Concerning How to Choose a Nursing Home

  • April 20, 2018
  • KBA Attorneys
  • No Comments

One of the most frequent questions our clients have is, “How can I tell the difference a good nursing home and a bad nursing home?” It’s an excellent question because not all nursing homes are the same, and choosing one can be one of the most difficult decisions you can make for a family member.

Use Your Senses

Many signs of a bad nursing home can be detected by the naked eye. When you roam the halls of a nursing home, check to make sure it is well-lit, pleasant, and that staff is visible. Make sure the facility is clean and residents seem happy and engaged in activities. If the facility looks or smells bad, there may be a staffing problem and the facility as a whole could have issues. Lastly, when you visit the nursing home, speak with other residents and their families ask them about any complaints or concerns.

Review Meeting Minutes

Many nursing homes have resident council meetings to discuss various issues. Ask to see the meeting minutes to help identify any on-going or unresolved problems.


Do your homework and check the facility’s reviews. First, you will want to check on the government-run Nursing Home Compare website. It rates nursing home quality on a five-star scale (1 star being the worst) in four categories: overall rating, health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. For instance, if you click on “health inspections” for a particular nursing home, you can see how the it did on its last inspection. The federal website is not perfect because it relies, in large part, on the nursing home itself to report any staffing information. Another option is ProPublica’s website, Nursing Home Inspect. This website also relies largely on data collected by the government but presents it in a user-friendly manner. It even includes which nursing homes received the most fines. Lastly, many facilities also have reviews on Google and Yelp, both which can be excellent indicators of what is going on in the eyes of consumers.

Check the Special Focus Facility List

Nursing homes must undergo inspections to confirm they’re complying with federal regulations. State inspectors conduct unannounced surveys of nursing homes to identify any deficiencies, and federal regulators require that any problems be corrected. If the issues are not corrected, all Medicare and Medicaid funding can be revoked. For nearly every facility, that means closing the doors. Most nursing homes receive six or seven deficiencies in each inspection, but an excessive number warrants placement on the Special Focus Facility list (SFF). An SFF-listed nursing home receives a state survey team visit twice a year in addition to putting its Medicare and Medicaid funding in jeopardy.

Click here to read the most recent Special Focus Facility list.

If you, or a family member, has been neglected or injured in a nursing home, contact an attorney of Ketterer, Browne, and Anderson.