Choosing a Nursing Home: The One Thing to Know


ORLANDO. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s not an easy decision, but it’s one that more than a million families make every year: the decision to put your loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility. You want the best and most loving care for them, but how do you know that’s what they’ll get? Here’s an aging expert who said there’s one thing that will tell you everything you need to know about the place.

“Assisted living facilities and nursing homes can’t hide anything from you because the relationships are all right there in front of you,” said Bill Thomas, MD, a geriatrician and aging expert.

When it comes to picking a nursing home Thomas said it doesn’t matter how new the carpet or how expensive the drapes, the only thing that matters is the relationship between the head administrator and the people who live and work there.

“An administrator just walked by an elder and didn’t say ‘Hello, how are you?’ and didn’t know their name, done! Turn around and walk out. That’s not a good place you want to be,” detailed Thomas.

Warmth, affection and chemistry are things you can’t fake, Thomas said. The way the staff treats each other is a sign of how they’ll treat your loved one.

Thomas told Ivanhoe, “You really want to be in a place where that administrator can’t go five feet without stopping and talking and how you doing! That’s what you want.”

Other tips according to the AARP include asking the staff how often they work over time or double-shifts because that’s a sign of short staffing which can affect patient care. While some funky odors can’t be avoided, a strong smell of stale urine often means the place isn’t cleaned properly. also offers a nursing home compare feature where you can view facility characteristics, inspection reports, staffing level, and quality measure information.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #2368

BACKGROUND: Nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities provide a variety of services, both medical and personal care (like bathing, getting dressed and eating) to people who are unable to manage independently. Over 4 million Americans are admitted to or reside in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities each year and nearly one million persons reside in assisted living facilities. A nursing home facility may be the best choice for people who require 24-hour medical care and supervision.


 WHAT DO NURSING HOMES OFFER: The services nursing homes offer vary from facility to facility. Services often include:

  • Room and board
  • Monitoring of medication
  • Personal care (including dressing, bathing, and toilet assistance)
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Social and recreational activities


WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR IN A NURSING HOME: In order to decide which nursing home is the best one for you or your loved one, review the following checklist before visiting them and look for the answers (whether physically or by asking the staff) once you get there in order to make appropriate comparisons for each home:

  • Does the nursing home provide the level of care needed?
  • Does the nursing home meet local and/or state licensing requirements?
  • Are staff members available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
  • Do staff members seem to genuinely enjoy working with the residents?
  • Do staff members treat residents as individuals?
  • Does a doctor or nurse visit the resident regularly to provide medical checkups?
  • Do residents appear happy and comfortable?
  • Do residents, other visitors, and volunteers speak favorably about the nursing home?
  • Are residents clean and adequately dressed?
  • Is the residence clean, odor free, and appropriately heated/cooled?


* For More Information, Contact:

 Bill Thomas, MD


Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: