If a nursing home is the next step

Before a decision is made on which to chose, here are some things to keep in mind

(Photo courtesy of Pexels - Wellness Gallery)

MARQUETTE — Making a choice to reside in a nursing home can be a difficult emotional decision. Nursing homes, however, may provide a level of care that individuals simply cannot provide on their own.

Whether you are planning for your own future or assisting relatives in investigating their options, it is important to seek advice from family, friends, and experts. In order to ensure that the decision you make regarding a nursing home is the best choice possible, it is essential to begin your search before a crisis forces you to make a hasty choice.

Space in a nursing facility is so much in demand that you may find it difficult to immediately find anything available and to your liking. Even with time for hunting, frequently the individual’s name may have to be placed on several waiting lists. Thus, in addition to beginning your search as early as possible, it is wise to check out as many nursing facilities as possible.

A first step in finding the right nursing home is to consult your doctor or hospital social worker. In addition, you may obtain a list of nursing facilities in your area through your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services inspection reports may also provide a valuable guide for deciding on an appropriate facility.

These reports are available from the department in Lansing and from the local ombudsman office. In addition, talk to people in your community such as your doctor, social worker, clergy, other friends and retirees, and the people in various community volunteer organizations.

They may be able to provide important information not readily obvious from reports. Remember, many people have had to make these decisions already, so make every effort to seek out their advice and experience.


Each nursing facility in Michigan must be licensed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

In order to be eligible to accept Medicaid or Medicare residents, a nursing facility must also be certified by the department. If you expect Medicaid or Medicare to assist in paying for nursing facility care, make sure the facility you are interested in is certified. Nearly all Michigan nursing facilities have beds that are certified for Medicaid and many are also certified for Medicare.


Once you have determined which licensed homes are most suitable and conveniently located for your needs, your next step should be to visit the facilities on your list.

You should make several visits at different times to assess the quality of the facility. For your first visit, you should call ahead to make an appointment for a full tour.

After your first visit, make your visits unannounced. One of your visits should be made during meal hours to see the quality of the food and to see if the residents enjoy the meals. During your visit, talk to the various officials and staff. In addition, talk to the residents and their families about their level of satisfaction.

Ultimately, you must be satisfied that the facility will be a pleasant home in which to live. On your visits to facilities, consider the following questions:

General Appearance and Atmosphere

≤ Is the general atmosphere warm and comforting?

≤ Is there friendliness, cooperation, and communication between the staff and the residents?

≤ Do the residents interact with each other as well as with the staff?

≤ How do the residents appear? Well-groomed with hair neat, clean-shaven? Unless they are very ill and bedridden, are they actively involved with each other or taking part in activities?

≤ Do the residents look happy?


≤ Is the building attractive?

≤ Is the facility clear and well-kept? Are there pictures on the walls, flowers, and plants about? Comfortable furniture in lounge areas? Are there clocks and calendars around to help residents and staff keep track of time?

≤ Is the most recent survey report by the department and any plans of corrections easily available for review? Are past reports available for review?

≤ Is the facility free from odors? Bowel and bladder accidents do happen, but permanent odors are not a “natural” result; prompt attention to cleaning up such accidents prevents odors from lingering.

≤ Is the facility free from heavy, cover-up disinfectant odors?

≤ Is there a crafts or activities room? Is it used by residents?

≤ What are the resident rooms like? Clean and comfortable?


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