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Evaluating Facilities and Services for Care of Brain Illnesses

A diagnosis of a brain disease such as a brain tumor or dementia is often the first step into a new world. The facility where the person will receive care is an important part of that world. Although you might feel rushed by the fact of a new diagnosis, it's important to use whatever time is available to make the best choice possible.

First of all, make a list of facilities that are an option. The person's doctor will make recommendations about facilities, but you can also ask friends, family and colleagues who have had to make a similar decision.

It is very important to visit the places that are on your list. Arrange a tour by calling in advance. You might also want to visit at a time when you have not scheduled a tour. It is especially important to plan an unscheduled visit of residential facilities to try to get the "feel" of the place when they are not expecting you.

Approach to Care

Most facilities will have their mission, vision and values posted prominently so that patients and visitors can see them. Talk to the specialists you would be working with as well as patients or visitors in the waiting room to find out about less concrete issues such as the staff's approach to pain management, patient anxiety, communication with patients and philosophy of care.


Location and environment are important considerations. Find out:

  • Is the facility close to home, friends and family? Are visiting hours reasonable?
  • Is parking easy and accessible?
  • If the facility is far from home, is there a place where family can stay overnight?
  • Is the facility calm and soothing?
  • Is the facility clean? (Ask about staff and room cleanliness and infection-control policies.)
  • Can nurses and staff see into patient rooms easily?
  • For patients with dementia, is there a wander alert system? (For people considering residential facilities, ask whether residents are registered with the police so they can be returned safely in the event of wandering.)
  • Are there secure outdoor spaces for ambulatory patients, family and friends?