Senior Care

11 Questions to Ask When Visiting a Skilled Nursing Facility

There is a lot to consider when starting to look into nursing home and skilled nursing facility care. Here are some questions to ask to guide you and your loved one along your journey.

May. 8, 2024 7   min read

MId adult support worker explaining medical details to senior couple at home

Estimates from the CDC suggest there are about 15,300 nursing homes and skilled living facilities in the U.S. When making the choice on a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to know what your priorities are so you can know which place will be the right fit.

Asking the right questions will give you valuable insight into the quality of care, services offered, staff expertise, and overall atmosphere at any location. Here are some of the questions you can ask to give you better awareness of what a particular facility will be like and help you make a well-informed decision.

1. What is the staff-to-resident ratio during the day and night?

New York state does have mandated nurse staffing ratios for skilled nursing facilities. The ratios vary from facility to facility based on a number of factors, including patient population, daily staffing, and other changes.

2. Are staff members trained in managing specific conditions?

Some nursing homes offer care for certain medical conditions, such as dementia, heart disease, or diabetes. Asking ahead of time can make a difference in knowing you or your loved one will be cared for properly.

3. What medical services are available on site?

Depending on the affiliation, some skilled nursing facilities will have a registered nurse or physician on the grounds part-time or full-time. While this is not the case for all skilled nursing facilities, some always have a provider on call as needed.

Knowing how medical emergencies are handled is important, as well.

4. Who creates and manages care plans, and when and how often are they updated?

Care plans keep track of a resident’s physical, mental, and emotional needs – medications, physical therapy, and much more. It is important to know how – and how often – you or your loved one’s requirements will be met by caregivers.

5. What activities and levels of independence do you offer to residents?

Asking about any recreational and social activities that are offered to residents. If you or your loved one enjoys certain games, sports, or activities, that can be important in helping them to maintain a sense of independence.

Personalizing living spaces is another good topic to explore – whether someone can bring in furnishings or décor to make their place their own. Answers to these questions point to how a facility embraces giving its residents independence and dignity.

6. How are meals and other food options prepared?

Nutrition and any special dietary needs should be addressed ahead of time. Residents should know if they are able to request specific meals or if there is a set meal schedule throughout the day. The availability of snacks and beverages throughout the day is good to know, as well.

7. How do you keep residents safe?

In case of an emergency or other immediate concerns that arise, knowing proper security measures are in place to keep you or your loved one safe is vital.

For residents who may have wandering or exit-seeking behaviors, nursing homes and similar facilities should have protocols in place to prevent them from being able to leave on their own. Ask about emergency call systems or alarms that warn staff about a potential security alert.

8. What is the level of family involvement in care and everyday activity?

Many families want to have direct involvement in how their loved one’s care is planned and how health decisions are made in a skilled nursing facility setting. Talk with staff and administrators ahead of time so you know what the best communication methods are to stay up to date on everyday activity and health decisions that you or your loved one will go through.

Inquire about any special events or days where family members can join in activities or events.

9. What is the cost of being a resident at a nursing home?

This is one of the most significant factors in choosing a nursing home. Admissions counselors can address any costs associated with being a resident and what it includes. Ask about any additional fees or charges that may arise with added services and see if there are insurance coverage or payment options that you should be aware of ahead of time.

10. Do you have any accreditations or certifications that highlight your commitment to quality care?

All Rochester Regional Health skilled nursing facilities are licensed and accredited by the appropriate regulatory agencies and meet state and federal requirements. When talking with other nursing homes and facilities, ensure this is the case.

You can also ask about any additional accreditations or certifications that show the facility and its staff demonstrate a commitment to quality care.

11. Can I talk with a current resident and/or their family?

After talking with administrators and staff, you should have a good idea of what a given facility has to offer you or your loved one. However, you should also ask to talk with a current resident and their familiy to get additional perspective on the quality of care and life in the facility.

Reputable online reviews and ratings from trusted sources such as Medicare or U.S. News and World Report can also give you insight into a skilled nursing facility – and might offer additional questions to ask about everyday life there.

NEXT STEPS Living With Dignity Every Day

With several choices offering varying levels of independence and medical care, Rochester Regional Health provides personalized and professional health care for your loved one at a skilled nursing facility close to home.

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