Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility

Care Facility: Elder Care Attorney in Bucks CountyIt’s one of the most difficult decisions a family can face: Moving an older parent into a long-term care facility. Even if the parent recognizes they can no longer live on their own, there are other major questions to be answered:

How do we know a nursing home is safe? How can we make sure they’ll get the best care? As an elder care attorney in Bucks County, Richard Newman knows how difficult it can to answer these questions. That’s why we’re sharing this list from the AARP.

It’s a series of questions you should ask when visiting potential long-term care facilities. Use this checklist as you explore local nursing homes with your family.


  • Is the facility Medicare and Medicaid certified? (Medicare certification is important, as the government program only pays for facilities that it has certified.)
  • Has its license ever been revoked?
  • Has the facility been certified by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations? (Look for a JCAHO “gold seal of approval” decal.)
  • How many licensed nurses – RNs and LPNs – are on duty for each shift?
  • What is the resident to staff ratio?
  • What is the visiting policy? What is the discharge policy?
  • Do they have transportation to take residents to the doctor?


  • Are the exits well marked?
  • Are the hallways and staircases well lit?
  • Do the hallways have handrails?
  • Is the floor plan easy to follow?
  • Do bedrooms and bathrooms and have grab bars and call buttons?
  • Are there safety locks on the windows and doors?
  • Does the building have fire safety and security systems?
  • Is there a generator or some other alternate power source for emergencies?


  • Does the building have a fresh smell?
  • Are residents clean and well-groomed?
  • Do staff members interact well with residents?
  • Do residents participate in activities and exercise?
  • Do residents have the same caregivers from day to day?
  • Do staff members respond promptly to calls for help? (Hearing cries for help isn’t a cause for alarm, as this is often part of suffering from dementia. It’s more important to see how staff members respond.)
  • Does the food look and smell good?
  • Is there fresh water available in the rooms?
  • Are residents given choices at mealtimes?
  • Do residents have access to nutritious snacks throughout the day?
  • Do residents who need assistance eating and drinking get help?
  • Is the staffed trained at working with people with dementia?
  • Are there special units/services for special needs such as Alzheimer’s?
  • Is physical therapy available?

Quality of life

  • Has the facility posted a list of residents’ rights?
  • Does the staff knock before entering a resident’s room?
  • Are doors kept closed when a resident is bathing or dressing?
  • Is the facility in a place that’s easy to visit?
  • Does the home respect resident’s cultural, religious or language needs?
  • Are there outdoor areas for residents who want to spend time outside?
  • Can the residents make choices about their daily routine (when to go to bed, when to eat, when to get up, etc.)?
  • Does the facility allow residents to keep personal belongings and furniture in their rooms?
  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Does the facility have a friendly, home-like feel?

If you’re preparing to help your parents move into a long-term care facility, you may need the assistance of an elder care attorney in Bucks County. This is a difficult transition for any family to make, but we are here to help you make it easier.

Contact the experts at Newman Elder Law today and let us help you guide your family through this difficult time.

2 thoughts on “Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Long-Term Care Facility

  1. It’s so disheartening to know that we even have to make lists like these, but honestly if you’re looking to put your parent up in a long term care facility, you have to do your due diligence. Failure to check off at least MOST of these qualifications can mean a very sad existence for your loved one.

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