Crucial Steps in the Search for the Right Nursing Home

Finding a skilled nursing facility or nursing home after a hospital stay can be daunting. Follow these steps and tips to make the process easier.

A nurse helps a nursing home resident get out of bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After a stay in the hospital, most of us would prefer to go home to recuperate, but that may not be possible. If you or your loved one needs more medical care, rehabilitation or supervision, you'll have to find a nursing home or skilled nursing facility before your loved one is discharged.

Families are often given little time and guidance to make an informed choice. The hospital's discharge planner will provide a long list of facilities but no recommendations. Choose the wrong facility, and stress, confusion and regret will be the result, with profound implications for everyone. Your search should begin as soon as realistically possible. Even better, before a health crisis, create a list of places you would be willing to consider. "The saying goes, 'Discharge starts at admission,'" says Eilon Caspi, a gerontologist at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

But what should you look for, and who is a good source of impartial information? Nursing homes are a business with marketing personnel whose job it is to sell you on the place, but you need more than glossy brochures and vague promises to go on. Because many nursing homes didn't fare well during the pandemic, you should be especially vigilant in your search now.

Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.