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Tips for Selecting a Nursing Home

Selecting a nursing home can be a difficult task. The purpose of this site is to provide you background knowledge about nursing homes, what to expect, and beginning general guidance. The overall goal of nursing home care is to assist individual residents to attain or maintain their highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.

The Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Provider Standards, wishes to provide you some information and resources available to help you make an informed selection regarding nursing home placement. Using our Health Care Facilities Directory, start a list of nursing homes in your area geographically located convenient to you, your family or friends. Our list will tell you whether they are Medicare or Medicare and Medicaid certified, the number of beds, and if they provide skilled nursing care.

Special Focus Facilities (SFF) The Special Focus Facilities are nursing homes that (a) have had a history of serious quality issues and (b) are included in a special program to stimulate improvements in their quality of care. Currently, in the state of Alabama, there is only one such nursing home listed as an SFF. View current SFFView detailed explanations of this program and how it works.

Also available are the results of the most recent survey conducted by our staff. These results list areas the facility did not meet Federal requirements for certification, how severe the problem was, and how many residents were affected. Refer to our Health Care Facilities home page to review health care facilities deficiencies.

Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hosts a site which allows you to compare nursing homes nationally.

Once you've started your list, talk to friends, neighbors or coworkers about recent experiences they had with any of the nursing homes. Following these reviews, call the facilities and schedule an appointment for a tour. You can get additional information from the Local and State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program by going to Alabama Age Line.

Some of the things you will want to observe for are:

  • Residents are clean, appropriately dressed, well groomed and have a pleasant attitude
  • Both the inside and outside of the nursing home appears clean and well-kept.
  • The level of lighting, sounds, odors, temperature and furnishings are agreeable and pleasant.
  • Staff wear name tags and interactions with residents are warm, polite and respectful.
  • Resident rooms incorporate resident's belonging and have a homelike atmosphere.
  • Meals are appealing and staff assist residents at meal and snack times.
  • Resident rooms and common areas have adequate safety precautions (handrails, call lights, nonskid surfaces, smoke detectors, sprinklers).
  • Residents are participating in meaningful activities.

Things you will need to ask about are:

  • Levels of care provided and special needs that can be addressed, custodial care, personal care (barbers and beauticians), skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social services, mental health services, podiatry services.
  • Payment and financial obligations for services covered.
  • Staff education is provided to all staff including prevention/detection of resident abuse.
  • Whether or not hiring practices include a background check.
  • Physician selection and availability.
  • How food likes, dislikes, and menu choices are made.
  • Review an activity calendar and see if any of the activities are of interest to you. Ask how activities are adapted for residents with differing needs.
  • There are alternatives to Nursing Home placement and care for eligible participants, even those with serious medical conditions, through the Alabama Medicaid Waiver Program located at Alabama Medicaid



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