Here are 10 signs that a particular nursing home would be a great place for your elderly loved-ones to live at – signs that you can feel good about and reassured they’re getting top-notch care.

For many people, the words “nursing home” automatically conjure up a dismal gloomy place for old people to die.

With the elderly population growing in leaps and bounds, the need for nursing homes is increasing – there are a lot to choose from.

Problem is, a bad nursing home can initially appear as a really good facility.

Teri Dreher, RN, CCRN, is an award-winning RN patient advocate and pioneer in the field of private patient advocate.

Dreher is an expert in nursing home selection and offers the following 10 signs that indicate good quality in a nursing home.

10 Signs You Know a Nursing Home Is Good
(no particular order)

1. High Medicare ratings on Medicare Compare, low complaints with state

2. Low staff turnover rates, low staff/patient ratios

3. Low infection rates (count isolation carts in facility)

4. Director of Nursing and Executive Director in place for at least three years

5. Quality rehabilitation staff/PT department

6. Compliments by family of long term patients

7. Healthy, delicious food and trained chef oversight

8. Family counsel group in place to help improve care issues with administration

9. Reputation of facility with doctors who have patients there

10. Friendly, warm interactions between staff/patients observed in halls spontaneously

What You Can Do to Seek Signs of a Good Nursing Home
• See if you can sample a lunch there during your visit. As mentioned, delicious food strongly suggests a high quality living environment.

• Visit when other visitors would most likely be plenty—and ask them what they think of the facility.

• Check out the planned activities list for the residents. If it chock-full of a variety of activities?

• If possible observe some residents. Collectively, what is their apparent demeanor? Would you call it despairing or cheerful?

And even though this post is about signs of a really good nursing home, there is one thing that needs to be mentioned that’s a gigantic red flag that should send you running for the hills:

Avoid facilities – even if the living arrangement is in some stylish Victorian house — that want you to indicate when you’re coming for a visit.

Residents should always be in “ready” condition: spic-n-span clean, warm, dry, well-fed, comfortable, appropriately clothed, in a tidy environment.

Another sign that could mean a good nursing home is a beautifully kept exterior (in addition to a clean and tidy, colorful interior).

However, don’t make judgements based solely on an elaborate flower garden and decorative stone water fountains.

teri dreher

Teri Dreher’s 35+ years of experience combines critical care nursing, home based healthcare and cardiovascular clinical nursing.