Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Nursing Home

        Health | Elder Care

What is the staffing situation?

In many ways, the staff at a nursing home becomes a surrogate family to a patient. So you'll want to spend time talking to as many of them as possible to find out what their attitudes are toward the residents. Do they seem stressed? Too busy to speak with you or do their jobs in a calm and nurturing way? If this is the case, the facility may be understaffed, so be sure to ask about the patient-to-staff ratio or do your homework on Medicare's Nursing Home Compare site.

Once you've determined that there are enough employees at the potential facility, find out exactly who comprises the staff. Is there a social worker? How many RNs are on duty? Does the nursing home have its own doctor or one who's always on call?

You may also want to inquire about any specialized training the staff receives -- such as abuse prevention -- either upon being hired or on an ongoing basis.

One key question that should be at the top of your list is to find out if staff members work with the same patients at least four to five days per week. This can build positive relationships between staff and patient and can mean the difference between a cold, impersonal experience and one that truly feels like family.