Essential Qualities of a Good Nursing Home

Many people hope to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Sadly, when that becomes impossible due to health or safety concerns, choosing a good nursing home is sure to appear on your short list of options of what to do next.

To help make this difficult decision easier, familiarize yourself with the qualities of a good nursing home. Knowing what to look for will empower you to make an informed choice and help you differentiate between high-quality facilities and places you should quickly cross off your list of possibilities.

Respect for Residents

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  • Residents are treated with respect, no matter what their physical or mental condition may be.
  • The staff should be friendly, caring and supportive while providing the required care.
  • The staff should call residents by their first names, instead of "grampa" or other ubiquitous nicknames.
  • The staff should respect the resident's privacy by doing simple things, such as knocking on doors before entering and providing clear communication of all procedures etc.

A Variety of Activites

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  • There should be a variety of social, physical, creative, and educational activities available that will appeal to all residents.
  • Interaction with people outside the nursing home should be encouraged, including community groups that bring pets to the facility or perform acoustic music. 
  • Planned group activities for outside events.
  • Residents should be busy with things to do and places to go within the facility. 

Attractive and Tasty Food

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  • Well-balanced, attractively prepared meals should be available and served in a pleasant setting that provides opportunities for social interaction.
  • Special meals to accommodate residents' health problems, as well as their religious and ethical needs — if you're vegetarian or vegan — should be available.
  • Staff should follow a policy of monitoring nutritional intake and promptly notifying family members, and/or the resident's physician when a resident is eating poorly or has difficulty eating.

Comfortable and Home-Like Surroundings

Caretaker with senior people in nursing home
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  • Every effort should be made to keep the nursing facility homelike and comfortable.
  • Residents should be able to bring some furnishings from their home and pictures of their family to decorate their rooms.
  • Many seniors enjoy gardening and the addition of a resident kept garden can help make a senior feel more at home and encourage them to spend more time outdoors.


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  • Nice extras that nursing homes may provide include beauty salons and barber shops because residents may feel a higher sense of well-being if they feel good about their physical appearance.
  • Internet access should be readily available and provides your loved one a way to keep in touch, stay up to date on current events and watch movies. 
  • Pleasant surroundings, including attractive seating areas, artwork, and interior plant scaping.

Safe and Clean Environment

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  • Hallways and doorways should be lit and clear of obstacles that could cause injury.
  • You should not notice a smell of urine or feces.
  • Residents should be cleanly dressed and well-groomed.
  • The residents' quarters should be clean and orderly, including the bathroom.

Visitors Are Always Welcome

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A good nursing home invites families, friends and potential residents to drop in "anytime" (within reason, of course — midnight is not typically the time for a visit) to see that there is nothing to hide.

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