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How Do I Choose the Best Skilled Nursing Facility?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter

To select the best skilled nursing facility, get recommendations from others, visit different facilities, and talk to both employees and residents of the facilities before you make your decision. There is no one best facility that will work for everyone, so it does take research to determine which facility will work best for each individual. While many nursing homes are designed to provide care for individuals with a wide range of health issues, many specialize in specific services. A facility that specializes in Alzheimer's care, for example, will be better equipped to deal with these issues than a more generalized long-term care facility.

Talk to the healthcare provider responsible for treating the individual seeking skilled nursing care. This healthcare provider is familiar with the unique needs of the individual as well as the healthcare offerings in the community and surrounding areas. Seek out other individuals for referrals, include any therapists that are currently treating the individual, as well as any friends that have loved ones in a skilled nursing facility.


Visit each of the facilities that may be a good fit. Observe both the staff and residents. The staff should appear pleasant and helpful. Make a point to be present at mealtime. The food should smell and appear appetizing, and staff members should be present to help residents with meals as necessary. The residents should appear comfortable asking for help from staff. The overall atmosphere should seem relaxed rather than rushed.

Ask the director of the skilled nursing facility how emergencies, doctors appointments, and medications are handled. It is also important to find out how the facility is staffed. There is no reason to expect that every person working with residents is a healthcare professional, though it is reasonable to expect at least one registered nurse to be on duty, in the facility, at all times.

Check rankings and reviews from online rating sites to make sure the skilled nursing facilities still in consideration have a good reputation and are well-established. If the intended resident has a specific healthcare need, such as short-term rehabilitation with the goal of returning home, select a facility that has proven success in that area. Make sure that the facility is close enough that family and friends can make regular visits, both to check on the resident, and provide company.

Moving to a skilled nursing facility is a lifestyle change that requires a major adjustment for most people. Employees at the skilled nursing facility are aware of that, and should make every effort to help with the transition. This can be by encouraging participation in activities, and by taking time to make small talk with the resident, as well as keeping family members up to date on the resident's transition.

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