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  • Sat - Sun: 5:00 AM - 5:30 PM PT

Nursing Home Checklist

Ideally, you should visit any nursing home you’re considering at least twice, at different times of day and on different days of the week to get a sense of what the staff is like overall. During your visits, here are things to look for.

To download a printable version of this checklist, please click here.

The Basics

  • Is the nursing home Medicare certified?
  • Is the nursing home Medicaid certified?
  • Has the facility’s state license ever been suspended or revoked?
  • Does the home make a copy of its most recent state inspection report available to visitors?
  • If there were deficiencies noted on the inspection report, has the staff corrected them?
  • Is there a bed available for your loved one?
  • If no beds are currently available, is there a waiting list?
  • Does the facility offer any specialized skilled nursing care your loved one needs, such as dementia care?
  • Is the facility close enough to family and friends to allow for regular visits?

Patient Comfort and Safety

  • Does the retirement home conduct background checks on its employees?
  • Are there door alarms and security measures to monitor who comes and goes from the facility?
  • Do the patients you see during your visit seem clean, properly dressed, and well cared for?
  • Do the staffers you see during your visit treat patients with respect?
  • Do staffers respond to patients’ requests quickly?
  • Does the nursing home look clean and smell sanitary?
  • Are vaccines, health screenings, and other preventive care measures available to patients?
  • Is the temperature comfortable for residents?
  • Does the building meet basic safety-code standards such as clearly marked exits, fire extinguishers, and sprinklers?
  • Does the facility have an evacuation procedure in case of emergencies such as fire or flood?
  • Does the building have a backup power generator in case of a power outage?
  • Is there a nearby hospital where patients can be transferred in case of medical emergency?
  • Are the patient areas of the building (personal rooms, lounges, dining areas) wheelchair and walker accessible?
  • Do bathrooms and hallways have grab bars or hand rails for patient safety?
  • Do patients have daily access to a safe outdoor area for exercise and relaxation?
  • Does the staff make an effort to include all patients in social activities and special events?
  • Does the nursing home have a volunteer program and a full schedule of regular activities?
  • Can the facility accommodate patients’ religious practices and preferences, such as special meals?


  • Is the staff available for care plan meetings with patients and their families?
  • What is the patient-to-staff ratio?
  • How many CNAs and RNs are on duty during each shift?
  • Do all staff members wear clearly visible name tags?
  • Is there continuing education available for facility staff members?
  • Are patients cared for by a consistent group of CNAs and RNs?
  • Does the skilled nursing facility have a staff doctor?
  • Does the facility have a full-time social worker?

Meals and Nutrition

  • Are water pitchers always available to patients in their rooms?
  • Do patients have a choice of foods at mealtime?
  • How does the food smell and taste to you?
  • Is the dining hall clean and relatively quiet?
  • Are snacks available between meals?
  • Are there enough staffers on hand at mealtimes to help residents who need assistance with eating?

Patient Rooms

  • Do staffers knock before entering patient rooms?
  • Do patients have a choice of roommates?
  • Does each patient in a semi-private room have his or her own secure space for personal belongings?
  • Does each patient room have a window with a secure lock?
  • Do all patients have their own telephone and television in their room?
  • How frequently are linens changed and rooms cleaned?