Senior Residence Tour Checklist


Use this list of questions to help you evaluate a potential senior residence, such as a nursing home, or an active adult, independent living, assisted living, or continuing care retirement community.


  • Is the residence located in a safe neighborhood?
  • Is the residence close to your family and friends?
  • Are there shopping centers or other businesses within walking distance?
  • Do you like the appearance of the residence? Are the grounds well maintained? Is the interior of the residence cheerful and homelike?
  • Is the residence clean and odor-free?
  • How many people live in the residence?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Are there common areas with enough space for residents to spend time together?
  • Are outdoor areas available to residents?
  • Can residents come and go freely? Are visitors allowed to come and go freely?

Tip: To get a good feel for the residence, try to visit it more than once (unannounced, if possible).


  • Do the residents seem happy and content?
  • Are they friendly?
  • Are they interacting with each other and/or you?
  • Are there social groups or other organized activities for residents?

Tip: If you are permitted, take time to talk to some of the current residents about how they like the community.


  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • Do the staff members seem rushed, stressed out, or overworked?
  • How do staff members interact with the residents? Do they know residents’ names? Are the interactions friendly or tense?
  • Do staff members treat each other professionally?
  • What training, continuing education, or licensing do staff members receive?
  • How are residents’ concerns handled?


  • Are stairs and hallways well lit?
  • Can residents with walkers or wheelchairs get around easily?
  • Are the floors nonskid?
  • Do rooms and bathrooms have emergency call buttons? Do they have handrails?
  • Are there sprinklers and smoke detectors?
  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • Are there safety locks on the doors and windows?

Tip: Use the Better Business Bureau and your Area Agency on Aging to research the residence. Have there been any complaints? Is the facility licensed? Are financial and inspection records available?


  • Are there different types or sizes of units?
    • Do any of the units have a kitchen?
    • Can residents keep food in the units?
    • Are the units private?
    • Are the bathrooms private? Will they accommodate a wheelchair or walker?
    • Do all units have a telephone? Cable TV? Internet access?
    • What is provided in each unit? Can residents bring their own furniture and decorate their units?
    • Are the units smoke-free?
  • Is there a meal plan?
    • Is there a common dining area? Is it clean?
    • Are meals served every day? All day or at set times?
    • Does the menu vary and offer appealing, nutritious foods?
    • Are snacks available?
    • Can the meal service accommodate special food needs?
  • Is there a laundry service?
  • Is there a transportation service?
    • Can a resident arrange for transportation on short notice?
  • Is there a worship service?
  • Are residents allowed to have their own pets? Does the residence have community pets?
  • Does the residence offer special services, such as a salon or bank?

Services and Medical Care:

  • What personal care services are available (for example, assistance with eating, bathing, dressing)?
  • Are staff members available 24 hours a day? Is a doctor available 24 hours a day?
  • Are there doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, or other health professionals who come to the facility to evaluate and treat residents?
  • Does the residence regularly assess residents’ care needs?
    • Does the assessment include input from the resident, family members, staff, and doctors?
    • What happens if a resident’s care needs change?
  • Do residents have written care plans? If so, who develops the plans? How often are they reviewed and updated?
  • Does the residence have special care units, such as a unit to care for people who have dementia?
  • What are the medicine policies? Are residents allowed to take medicine on their own?
  • What happens when a resident develops a medical condition?
  • What is the procedure for responding to medical emergencies?

Contracts and Finances:

  • Did the residence provide you with a contract that details all fees and services, as well as admission and discharge policies? Is it easy to read and understand?
  • What rights do residents have?
  • What happens if a resident has to leave the residence?
    • Why would a resident be asked to leave? How much notice would the resident receive?
    • If the resident is in the hospital, is his or her unit reserved?
    • Who makes a transfer or discharge decision?
  • How much is the entrance fee?
  • How much is the monthly rent?
    • What is included in the rent? Are utilities and telephone included?
  • What is the security deposit?
    • Is the deposit refundable?
  • How does the residence bill for services?
  • Does the residence accept long-term care insurance?
  • Are there any programs to help cover the costs of services?


See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by editorial staff

Created: 04/12