Monday, May 7, 2012

What to Look for in a Skilled Nursing Facility

If you have a medical condition that requires frequent care, moving into a skilled nursing facility might be the best option for you. This type of setting can provide you with the medical supervision you need on a regular basis. You won’t have to worry about forgetting to take medications or falling if you have trouble getting around by yourself. You’ll always have someone there to make sure that you get the best care possible. When you visit facilities that you’re interested in, it’s important to look for certain things before making your final decision.

Look at how the skilled nursing facility is set up. Many have a central nursing station and dining area, as well as shared bedrooms and bathrooms. If you prefer a more personal setting with a cozier environment, look for facilities that offer private rooms and bathrooms. Some facilities are also designed for smaller groups instead of one large group. These typically have smaller communal areas and private kitchens or dining areas.

Make sure the facilities you visit are kept clean. Rooms, communal areas and dining areas should not have strong odors, such as urine. Keep in mind that overpowering smells from air fresheners and other deodorizing products could be masking these scents. Furniture and surface areas should not be covered in dirt, dust or other debris. Bedroom and bathroom linens should be cleaned regularly.

Find out as much as possible about the staff at the skilled nursing facilities you visit. Ask about the turnover rate since a lower rate generally indicates more satisfied employees who do their jobs well. You’ll want to look for employees that make you feel welcome and comfortable. Find out how many employees are around on weekends, evenings and weekdays. If you have a condition that requires special care, such as stroke rehabilitation, make sure the facility offers what you need.

Ask about the meals that are served. If you are on a special diet, check if the facility can accommodate your dietary needs. All meals should be nutritious and well-balanced. They should also be cooked under safe conditions in a sanitary environment.

Observe or talk to the residents at the skilled nursing facilities. They should seem alert and happy. Ask them if they enjoy the activities that the facility offers. You can also ask visiting family members for their opinions on the care that their loved ones receive.

About the Author:

Mr. Farrell, who holds a Master’s degree in social work, with a concentration in gerontology and administration from Boston College, is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator. He is widely published and nationally recognized as an educator in the skilled nursing facility industry.


  1. If "you" can still make these decisions you'll probably want to live in an assisted living facility or some other place as moving into a skilled nursing facility means a loss of control over your life--and that can be as deadly or mind killing as forgetting to take a med every once in awhile

    They have visiting nurses and other services that are designed to keep people in their homes

    I knew a very cognizant 96 year old who moved into the least restrictive part of a skilled nursing facility--after just a few weeks she was going crazy and ultimately moved into senior housing--it was amazing that the home nurse staff who had final say accepted her but she needed no care

    I knew a 64 year old who was too fat to wipe herself or walk. Moving into a skilled facility was the right decicson for her. But what cognizant person would want to be her roommate? (There weren't any single rooms at that time.)

    It's very personal and very hard and when people ask me 9 times out of ten I only recommend skilled care facilities for short term rehab--I am a clinical social worker who worked in an exceptionally great nursing home on and off for years. Yet if it were my mother--when it was my mother--she stayed home--she was blind but figured out her own system for taking meds. She had capability in all areas but sight so..

    There's a saying "old age isn't for sissies." It's so hard to find the right place but there are so many alternatives to nursing homes now for people who can make decisions--and skilled care=nursing home

  2. Thank you Pia...this is just the type of input we need and probably "the rest of the story". A friend of mine lived for ten years in an assisted living facility in spite of the fact that she was on many meds for her heart and totally blind. In her case, her family gave her that little extra boost that she needed.


  3. My mom moved into a independent living place a year ago. She has come alive again. At home she was isolted and she goes to dinner, to the movies and just enjoys life.
    Things are changing quickly in this type of care. My father passed five years go and the type of place my mom lives did not exist. My opinion is to begin to look before you need it.
    And pia- your compassion on the "fat lady" is underwhelming.

  4. I have come to realize how damaging isolation can be. Even now my ears perk up when I hear about women living in a community or co-housing. I hate being alone and always have. Thank you Janette for your comment.



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