What to Look For When Choosing a Nursing Home

Are you looking for a nursing home or assisted living facility for your loved one?

Finding a place to live for your loved one is a big responsibility. You want a place that takes care of them, is responsible, and has the expertise, staff and resources to handle a wide range of conditions and disabilities. And, of course, you want a facility that truly cares about your loved one as an individual, not just another patient.

Unfortunately, not all nursing homes are equal. The level of care, staffing ratios and skill often vary greatly among different nursing homes. As a nursing home lawyer in Kentucky, I have seen firsthand how negligent and abusive some facilities can be – and those are exactly the ones to avoid.

Here, are a few things you should look for when checking out nursing homes or assisted living facilities so you can find the best fit for your loved one – and keep them safe and happy.


I’ll start by reviewing a list of questions that you should ask of every nursing home or assisted living facility that you investigate.

  1. Is the nursing home Medicare/Medicaid certified?
  2. Does the nursing home have the level of care that I or my loved one needs?
  3. Does the nursing home offer specialized services such as special care units for residents with dementia, ventilator and/or trach care, or rehabilitation services?
  4. Are the residents kept clean and appropriately dressed?
  5. Does the nursing home appear clean?
  6. Does the staff knock on the door before entering the resident’s rooms?
  7. Does the staff interact with residents in a respectful manner?
  8. Is there a licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day, including a registered nurse that is available at least 8 hours per day, 7 days a week?
  9. Will an interdisciplinary team of nurses, CNAs, and therapists work with me to meet my needs?
  10. Has there been a pattern of turnover in administration and/or staff in the past year?
  11. What are the CMS state survey results for the last year? Any citations or fines?
  12. Is the nursing home insured? Any good and responsible nursing home or assisted living facility should have a minimum of $1,000,000 in insurance. Watch out for those that do not.

Asking these questions will give you a good idea for how you can expect a facility to care for your loved ones. Of course, you can and should ask for references from the facility from other families who have residents there (although know that references are naturally one-sided and may not fully reveal the truth).


There are numerous resources available to assist with the selection of a nursing home or assisted living facility. You can visit www.cms.gov for access to the CMS 5 Star Rating System results for facilities. There you will find ratings for quality measures, staffing and health inspections on the facilities you are considering.

The State Office of Inspector General also provides resources including survey results, inspection results, and nursing home ratings.

In addition, every facility should have their most recent survey results on hand and available at your request.

Resources also exist that will allow you to check any lawsuits or complaints filed against any facility. Remember it is not just the significance of any violations or complaints but also the quantity of such issues that are red flags for problem facilities. An experienced nursing home or assisted living facility attorney can assist with any of these investigations.


After conducting thorough research, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right nursing home. It helps to consult with a nursing home lawyer in Kentucky when deciding on a facility – after all, your loved one deserves nothing but the best care from a facility that respects them as a person and is dedicated to providing exceptional service.

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