What is a Nursing Home? Why Would I Need a Nursing Home?

nursing homes
Nursing homes provide 24-hour medical care to patients. Most often, nursing home care is ordered by a physician after a discharge from a hospital in the event a patient needs continued skilled nursing care to assist in their recovery from illness or injury. Many nursing homes have expanded to offer sub-acute and rehabilitation services to assist stroke, cardiac and orthopedic patients on their road to recovery.

Nursing homes are also called nursing facilities, skilled nursing facilities, convalescent nursing homes, convalescent homes, and SNFs.


9 tips to selecting the best nursing home

Choosing a nursing home is an important decision. With over 16,000 basic and skilled nursing facilities (SNF) nationwide, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. The key is to research your choices so you find a nursing home that fits your needs and provides quality care. Below is a list of factors to consider when selecting a nursing home:

1. Location: Nursing homes should be close to friends and family so they can frequently visit and check in on their loved one. Patients often do better when they have the support of family and friends.

2. Insurance: Verify the nursing home takes your insurance.

3. Specialty care: Check to see if the nursing homes specializes in the care you need. Some nursing homes have specialty units, for conditions like dementia and alzheimer's disease. Others specialize in rehabilitation from strokes, falls, or injury.

4. Quality: Quality shouldn't be overlooked; it's extremely important. The patient's overall health depends on it. Research the experiences of past and current residents. Is there enough staff available to take care patients? Do the staff have enough education and training? Are patient's privacy respected?

(Learn more about quality information WhereToFindCare.com has for nursing homes)

5. Recommendations: Ask friends and family if they have ever used the nursing home, or if they have heard anything about the nursing home. Word of mouth recommendations often make a big difference in the decision.

6. Reviews: Online reviews can be a valuable tool. They contain so much good advice and tips that may help you fill in the blanks. What's the noise level at night? How's the food? Is the facility properly staffed at night, weekends, and holidays? What's the staff attitude toward care?

7. Availability: The number of beds available can be rather limited at some facilities, so check with the nursing homes to see if they have any openings.

8. Inspection record: State governments typically do a yearly onsite inspection of each nursing home (inspections are required for those who wish to be eligible to care for Medicare and Medicaid patients). If any problems are found, the state issues citations (which a facility must correct within a certain time period). Check with your state government(usually it's the department of health or department of human services) for the inspection record.

9. Consider what each nursing home offers: The little things can make a big difference in making the nursing home feel like home. Check out the cooks and daily menus, activities and events, outdoor spaces like patios, room size and privacy. Inquire about amenities they offer.


Before you make your final decision

Tour the nursing home (get tips for what to look for when touring). This is a big decision. You need to see if the nursing homes is as good in real life as it as on paper. If you cannot go on the tour, send a trusted friend or family member in your place.

Find, compare & rate nursing homes

Learn more about nursing homes:

Making arrangements at a nursing home
Tips for moving into a nursing home
Tips for living at a nursing home