Are you daunted by the task of choosing a nursing home?

As experienced aged care providers, we know that choosing a nursing home can be a time consuming and emotional experience for all involved.

Time consuming because there are many nursing homes providing residential care and how do you choose one over another?

Emotional because the health of your loved one may require you to make a decision that you know will not sit kindly with your loved one or relative. They may not understand why they have to leave a home that they have lived in all their life and move to a nursing home. There may also be some trepidation or concerns about whether Mum or Dad will be appropriately cared for socially, emotionally and physically.

And, then there is the financial aspect of aged care and this in itself is a learning curve as depending on your financial acumen, aged care funding can be quite complicated to understand.

We offer some tips to help make the process of choosing a nursing home smoother.

  1. Decide who in the family is to be involved in the process of choosing of a nursing home and if more than one family member, decide who will look after the financial aspects (Power of Attorney) and medical aspects (Enduring Guardian) of your loved one. There is no limit on the number of Power of Attorney’s or Enduring Guardians that a person can nominate.
  2. Talk to your loved one or relative and other family members about what is important to look for in a nursing home. Being clear about the emotional, physical, social, spiritual and cultural needs of your loved one will assist you to prepare some questions to ask of the facility.
  3. Keep a notebook and pen handy so you can right down your thoughts quickly and easily.
  4. Involve your loved one or relative. Depending on the circumstance this may be difficult but try to involve them as much as possible, and to the best of their capacity as once a home is chosen, this will assist them to become familiar with the facility and routines and help with the transition into their new home.
  5. Do your homework. Visit the website and Facebook page of any nursing home you wish to visit.  Read any comments and balance concerns against compliments. Bear in mind that some comments about an issue made publicly should have been addressed privately with the provider.  If there are compliments look at what these refer to and ascertain if these issues are important to you.   Avoid 3rd party websites that often have outdated information, such as old photos and pricing or inaccurate information posted.
  6. On your tour of the facility ask lots of questions and don’t hesitate to ask to see an area of the home that is not on the tour.  Refer to your notebook and ask questions about the issues raised by family and yourself. After you have toured a facility write down your observations so you don’t forget anything.
  7. Before making a final decision, visit the facilities again and compare them. You may find that there are a couple of options available to you and making that final decision can be difficult, so perhaps rate them according to the identified needs and wants and don’t forget to consider location. Is the location easily accessible for all the family to visit?

Here are some questions to ask and observations to consider when choosing a nursing home.

  • The atmosphere.
    • How were you greeted during your visit? Were you made to feel welcome?
    • Was the staff friendly?
    • Were you given a comprehensive tour?
    • Were you invited to sit down and offered refreshments or left standing in the corridor till someone had the time to see you?
    • Were your questions appropriately answered?
  • The facility
    • Was the facility clean?
    • Did it smell fresh and airy?
    • What activities do they offer?
    • Are the rooms a good size and bright?
    • How often are the rooms cleaned?
    • Can extra furniture be taken into the rooms?
    • Is there telephone and internet?
    • Are there single rooms?
    • Can residents eat their meals in their rooms or do they have to eat in the dining room?
    • Are residents provided with supper after the evening meal?
    • Do residents get a choice of meals?
    • How often is the menu changed?
    • Do residents have input into the menu and other decisions about the facilities operation?
  • The Care
    • What about end of life care for your loved one/relative, are there staff with special skills/qualifications in this area?
    • What support is available for residents when another resident passes away?

Staff client ratio is important as is staff turnover.

    • How many Registered Nurses are rostered at one time?
    • If your loved one or relative has specific health requirements, does the facility have appropriately qualified staff?
    • Ask how long Senior Management have held their position and what is their experience?
    • Look at the body language of the staff as they communicate with any of the residents already in the home.
    • Ask about the skills/training of those working in special areas eg dementia.
    • Are external nursing agencies used to cover internal staff shortages?

Remember this is not a hospital you are visiting, it is going to be the home of your loved one or relative and where they are going to live out the rest of their days.

  • General
    • Is the home culturally appropriate for the needs of your loved one?
    • Is there a policy on social leave/overnight leave?
    • Are the nursing home values the same as yours?
    • What are the visiting times?
    • Can friends and relatives attend activities?

Questions to ask and observations to consider tips can be downloaded here here as a tip sheet.

Maroba Caring Communities has been caring for the elderly in the Hunter for over 66 years. Our staff are highly experienced with a wealth of knowledge to share and are happy to answer any questions.

Call today on (02) 4935 0300 to chat with our Customer Engagement Partner, or send us a message.


Written by: Anne Gleeson, Family Member &  Sarah Gamble, Communications Co-ordinator, Maroba Caring Communities.