When touring a home, always visit multiple floors or units and be sure to see more than the unit for “rehab” patients. The section used for rehabilitation is often more nicely furnished than the units for long-term residents because government reimbursements are higher for “rehab” patients, making these floors more profitable. Ask to see the unit where your loved one may be residing.
Note the interaction between staff and residents. “The resident always comes first!” should be the prevailing philosophy among all staff members. If your guide or another staff member ignores a distressed resident, this is cause for concern.
During your tour, note which rooms you are being shown. If you are brought into an occupied room unannounced or without permission, recognize that the staff tour guide is disregarding the right to privacy of a resident whose home you are entering.
Be aware of unsanitary conditions. The nose knows! If you smell urine or feces, or residents look unkempt, with uncombed hair or dirty clothes, this is not the nursing home for you.
After touring the facility, sit in the lobby, go over your notes, and observe the activities around you. If possible, talk with some of the residents and their family members. Get their opinions!
If you like the facility and think it’s worth considering, plan to visit again, but at different times and on different days. You may want to check out the facility after business hours or on weekends. You’d be surprised to discover how different some nursing homes operate when the management staff is not typically in the building.
Before you leave, ask the receptionist to see the nursing home survey. Every skilled facility is required to have the latest nursing home survey available. It is usually in a loose-leaf notebook at the desk or posted on a community bulletin board.