Finding the Right Nursing Care Facility


If you’re looking for a nursing care facility for a loved one or yourself, you may have questions about where to begin. Here are some tips to help you find the right place.

People may use different words to describe nursing care facilities. These include:

  • nursing home
  • skilled nursing facility or SNF (pronounced “sniff”) for short
  • long-term care
  • rehabilitation facility

Before you start, find out what kind of medical care is needed. If you are not sure, ask the person’s doctor or other medical provider.

This is important because different nursing care facilities offer different services such as speech therapy, specialized dementia care, or wound care, to name a few examples.

You can ask if there are ways to get care needed at home or in the community, but this is not always possible. If you are in a hospital, ask a social worker or case manager about care after discharge.

If a nursing home is the best choice for your situation, decide on a good location for your loved one and family. If family or friends want to visit regularly, find an area that makes visiting easy.

Check if friends or other people you know can recommend nursing homes. In some areas, you can hire a geriatric care manager to help you find a place that meets your loved ones’ needs.

There are free government services where you can get help finding nursing homes in Texas or in other states and territories. Click on blue underlined text to go to the listed websites.

Bring a list of questions to ask and things to look for as you visit nursing homes.

Once you’ve decided on an area, find out which facilities are certified by Medicare or Medicaid. You can compare the quality of nursing homes on the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website.

Once you have a list of possible nursing homes, experts recommend you drop in for a visit. Prepare a list of questions to ask and things to look for during the visit.

Medicare has a Nursing Home Checklist you can print, or you can create your own. Bring your list with you so you can take notes and compare facilities.

While you are in each nursing home, pay attention to what you see, hear, and smell. Watch how staff members interact with the residents. Ask to see the type of room your loved one would get to make sure it will meet his or her needs.

Many people want to find out about costs and insurance coverage for nursing home care. Medicare does not usually pay for long-term nursing home care. Some nursing homes accept Medicaid payments.

Check if the person who needs care has long-term care insurance or benefits from a current or former employer. You can also ask about charges for care when you visit nursing homes.

After moving into the nursing home, the resident, family, and facility staff members are partners in care. Residents in Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing homes have rights, and the nursing home must give information about these rights.

If there are problems, begin by talking to nursing home staff or administrators. If that does not work, concerns about resident rights can be reported to the ombudsman or state survey agency.

If you want more information about finding a nursing care facility, click here for details from Medicare about long-term care.

About the author

Sonya Flanders, RN, ACNS-BC
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Sonya is an adult clinical nurse specialist with Baylor and moved to Texas from Canada to become a Baylor nurse. She's focused on enhancing health education of older adults along with their families and caregivers.

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Finding the Right Nursing Care Facility