Senior Residence Tour Checklist

Senior Residence Tour Checklist Family Doctor Logo

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 (and 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?