How to Choose Skilled Nursing Services for Your Loved One

Senior man looking at tablet computer with nurse

If your loved one needs skilled nursing, you want to make the best possible choice for their care. But how do you go about finding it? As it turns out, your best bet for finding high-quality senior care is to do your research. Gathering information, online and in person, will help you narrow your options and make the right choice for your family member. Here are some suggestions to guide your efforts:

Understand What Skilled Nursing Is

As a first step, it helps to know the kind of care skilled nursing provides. At its most basic, skilled nursing offers round-the-clock care delivered by licensed professionals to people with medical needs that arise because of surgery, illness, or chronic health conditions. Residents may receive short-term care as they transition from the hospital back to their homes. Or they may require long-term care for ongoing health conditions.

To support residents’ recovery and provide the care they need, skilled nursing centers typically provide:

  • Round-the-clock medical supervision
  • Three daily meals
  • Help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing and grooming
  • Rehabilitation services, including speech, occupational and physical therapies

Ask for Referrals

Other people’s experience with skilled nursing can be an important resource for you. Make a point of asking friends and neighbors if they have recommendations for skilled nursing care. Your loved one’s medical team may also have input to share. If your loved one is currently in the hospital, the discharge planner or other staff members may also have suggestions.

Look Close to Home

Look for skilled nursing locations that make it convenient for you, other family members and friends to drop by often. Frequent visits to your loved one will boost their morale, ease your mind, and let staff members know their efforts are being noticed.

Compare Amenities and Services

Skilled nursing facilities often have a variety of features that can make your loved one’s experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Look for extras like wellness programs that promote whole-person health or an on-site massage therapist. Some skilled nursing centers are affiliated with universities, which means residents can benefit from a leading-edge approach to care that may not be available elsewhere.

Check the Data

Online tools can help you research a skilled nursing facility’s performance and reputation. ProPublica maintains a searchable database of nursing home inspections reports, and the Long Term Care Community Coalition offers state-by-state information on facilities’ ratings and citations. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rates Medicare-certified skilled nursing facilities on a 1- to 5-Star scale. You can search their database to learn more about a facility’s overall rating and their performance on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures.

Schedule a Tour

An in-person visit can be a rich source of information. You’ll get a firsthand impression of the staff, the atmosphere and well-being of residents. Before your tour, make a list of questions to ask. offers a checklist that can help you know what to look for. Look for answers to the following questions:

  • How’s the food? Everyone feels better when they get nourishing and tasty meals. The ideal skilled nursing facility will offer a variety of healthy and delicious menu options and be able to meet special dietary needs as well.
  • Are staff members happy? Staff morale can have a significant impact on resident well-being and can be an important indicator of the organization’s overall culture. Also ask about staff turnover, which can be another indicator of dissatisfaction.
  • Do residents seem well cared for? Notice if residents seem well-groomed, content and engaged with life. Also pay attention to interactions between staff and residents. How’s the rapport? Are staff responsive to residents’ needs?
  • Are the surroundings clean and comfortable? Use your nose as well as your eyes to answer this question. Strong odors and uncleanliness can suggest that staff is struggling to keep up with residents’ care needs.  
  • Are there planned activities for residents? Although everyone needs some time to themselves, it’s important for residents to have daily opportunities to be social and engaged. Find out if there’s a calendar of activities and how residents’ needs for social and mental engagement are satisfied.
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio? The higher the ratio, the more time staff members can spend caring for each resident.

Skilled Nursing at Its Best

At Legacy Pointe at UCF, our skilled nursing neighborhood combines a compassionate approach to care with state-of-the-art services. Capitalizing on our affiliation with UCF’s College of Nursing and other disciplines, we provide enriching programming, careful monitoring, the latest rehabilitation services, and individualized care. Contact us today to learn more about skilled nursing at Legacy Pointe at UCF or to schedule a tour.

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