Crucial Questions to Ask When You’re Choosing a Nursing Home


Speak to all sorts of staff members  and residents – before making your decision.

Caregiver showing resident something on a tablet – with Best Nursing Homes 2015 badgeFrom services to activities, here’s what potential residents should consider.

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Brian Capshaw, now 52, was a corporate cost accountant in Connecticut when a 1994 car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. He continued working until 2005, and within two years it became apparent he would need ongoing care. At 45, he became a resident at the East Hartford nursing facility where he’s been living since.

When choosing a facility, Capshaw had two main criteria: instate location, and the capability to give him the services he required. That narrowed his choices to two facilities. Capshaw and family members talked to an admissions representative and took a tour while visiting each. Seven years later, Capshaw has become an advocate for nursing-home residents. Given what he knows now, he says he would have asked a much wider range of questions during those initial visits, and talked to a variety of staff members while also seeking input from residents themselves.

Mitzi McFatrich has a different vantage point. As executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, a statewide nonprofit that works on long-term care and elder abuse issues, she’s seen many nursing homes, dug into countless reports of deficient care and testified on issues affecting residents’ well-being. She and Capshaw recommend some key questions to consider when deciding on nursing homes to visit. And you can locate possible facilities and find inspection data by searching the U.S. News Best Nursing Homes rankings, as well as downloading a comprehensive checklist for visits.
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