How to Choose a Nursing Home in Massachusetts

How to Choose a Nursing Home in Massachusetts 

When someone is faced with the overwhelming responsibility of finding a nursing home for a loved one, the question often is asked, “Where do I begin?” Although this is a very difficult process, with some professional guidance, the decision can be one that is fully informed and instills confidence that the best decision was made.

Common factors in the decision-making process are as follows: 

  •  Reputation and rating of nursing home ( 
  • Longevity of staff 
  • Cost: immediate and long term 
  • Convenience of location for family and/or friends • Availability of physician 
  • Availability of secure dementia care unit 
  • Availability of Medicaid/Masshealth

The next step is to identify the facilities in your area that meet the 2 criteria you have established for selection. Listings of facilities in the Greater Boston Area can be obtained from your Local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) at 1-800-AGE-INFO.

 A “real time” visit to the facility is essential. Tours should include at least one unannounced visit to the facility. Ask to speak to family members of other residents. Also, contact the local ombudsman for information about the history of the nursing home and get a copy of the facility’s state inspection report. This is a good time to contact friends and family members you know who have loved ones in a nursing home, as well as elder resource specialists, such as geriatric care managers and elder advisory groups who have clients or patients currently in facilities. 

Meet with the administration staff and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I feel welcome?
  • Did the admission director find out about my family member’s wants and needs?
  • Was the facility clean?
  • Were there any strong odors?
  • Was the staff friendly?
  • Did the residents appear well cared for?

Listen and observe. You can learn a lot about the facility by watching and paying attention. Once the admission process has begun, remember that the staff of the facility is meeting your loved one for the first time. They do not know his or her likes or dislikes, or those little nuances that make providing for them, more efficient and effective. The best way to help in this process is to tell the staff, in writing, as much information as possible about how to best care for your loved one. Make a point of getting to know the staff, and most important, stay involved. Let everyone know how committed you are to your loved one’s care. A care plan should be developed that is tailored to the individual’s need. Ask to be notified when this occurs and review it with the staff.

 If you find another facility that better suits your family’s needs, it is always possible to transfer care. Some facilities have a waiting list, so if the one you want becomes available, and it would not be too emotionally disruptive for the elder to be moved, the transfer can occur. 

If you need additional help choosing a nursing home, you can contact us here or by giving us a call at (617)-472-6600. 

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