5 Things to Look For in Long-term Care


Staff-to-patient Ratio

Try to determine how comfortable residents are with their caregivers.
Try to determine how comfortable residents are with their caregivers.
Rob Melnychuk/Photodisc/Getty Images

­Most long-term care facilities strive to maintain residents' independence and autonomy as much as possible. However, that doesn't mean that residents should be deprived of care and help when they need it. For that reason, it's important to consider the staff-to-patient ratio of any care facility. In particular, you'll want to investigate the number of personal care aides, as they provide the bulk of resident care; a good ratio would be one aide to every five or six residents during the day and 1-to-15 at night [source: Matthews].

Good patient care is more than just numbers, though. Residents aren't likely to feel comfortable if they never see the same person twice, and if caregiving is merely a revolving door of who's available. A resident's transition into a long-term care facility will likely be made smoother by receiving individualized care from a trusted caregiver. Ideally, as you tour a long-term care facility, you'd observe positive interactions between caregivers and residents, such as staff greeting residents by name and staff quickly and cheerfully responding to residents' needs and requests.

We're not done judging other people yet -- on the next page we'll do some more spying.