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?
- 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 familydoctor.org editorial staff