Nursing Home Care: What to Expect

A nursing home is a long-term care facility that provides full-time care and medical treatment for people who are unable to take care of themselves. Like most other senior living communities, nursing homes have evolved to meet the changing needs of the population.

While the traditional image of hospital rooms equipped with beds for end-of-life care still exist, many nursing homes have evolved to accept seniors for shorter stays and include services for younger people who need both long-term and short-term care.

The major change in modern nursing home care has been the addition of rehabilitation services. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are prevalent and considered an integral part of nursing home care today.

Questions to Ask About Nursing Home Care

The information in the following chart offers basic expectations and points to consider for nursing home care, however, each resident will naturally have different needs and a personal perspective.

Category Questions to Ask Staff at a Nursing Home Care Facility
Basic Requirements
  • Is the facility Medicare/Medicaid Certified?
  • Is the level of care required available?
  • Needed balance between custodial and skilled care?
  • Are there special services including rehabilitation, dementia?
  • Is the facility close to family and friends?
Staff
  • Does the staff receive on-going training?
  • Are there background checks of the staff?
  • Is there 24-hour licensed nursing care?
  • Is there an on-call doctor? Social worker?
  • Is all staff included in Patient Care Plans?
Residents
  • Do the patients seem engaged and cared for?
  • Do patient rooms have ample storage?
  • Do rooms include a window, telephone and TV?
  • Can patients choose their own rooms or change if there is a problem?
  • What is the response time for patients needing care?
Facility
  • Is the facility attractive and well maintained?
  • Are there community rooms and activities?
  • Are there clearly marked exits and handrails in the halls?
  • Are there quiet areas?
  • Do other visitors appear to be content?
Food
  • Are residents offered choices at every meal?
  • Are snacks available?
  • Does the staff help during meals?
  • Is overall meal presentation appealing?
Activities
  • Are there a variety of activities available?
  • Are activity rooms updated and appealing?
  • Is there an activity director?
  • Do the residents appear to engage in activities?

Choosing a Facility for Nursing Home Care

It is a good idea to list out personal expectations before visiting a new potential home. Write these expectations down and take them with you. Your list will become a tangible guide and help formulate questions and conversation with staff at the nursing home.

The need for nursing home care is not something most people want to consider. But the reality is that it may be a necessity. Researching ahead of possible need and clearly understanding what to expect from nursing home care gives the advantage of making the best choice, should the need arise in the future.

Find Nursing Home Care

Nursing home care plays an important role not only at the end of life, but also during the transition from hospital to home for seniors who need additional rehabilitation services. Browse our comprehensive directory to find nursing homes in your area.

Written by senior housing writer Marky Olson.