How to Choose the Best Care Facility for Seniors

How to Choose the Best Care Facility for SeniorsWe know that making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility isn’t an easy one. But when it’s necessary, it’s important to know what to look for in order to choose a high-quality facility that will take excellent care of your senior.

First Steps

Make a list of care facilities in your area, and research them online. Search for state surveys online and read about violations. Ask trusted physicians and hospital discharge planners or social workers for recommendations, as well. Once you’ve narrowed your list to three to five, it’s time to visit and get a feel for yourself.

Visiting Facilities

While you can schedule your visits, if you want the truest picture of a facility and how it cares for its residents, it’s best to show up unannounced and request a tour. This prevents the facility from overly preparing for your visit. You want to see each one as truly as you can. Here are the things to look for as you tour.


  • Do you notice any odors when you walk in or throughout the tour?
  • Are the floors clear of debris and shining?
  • Does the facility have a homey feel or is it cold and sparse?
  • Is the décor far outdated or modernized/updated?

Resident Care

  • Are the residents dressed in appropriate clothing? (wearing bras, daytime clothes, and covered?)
  • Is their hair combed?
  • Are they in clean clothes free of stains?
  • Are they free from odors?
  • How long do call lights/bells stay on before answered?
  • Are most residents up out of bed?

Staff Interactions

  • Do the staff members greet you when you enter and tour?
  • Are there attentive front-desk staff?
  • Are the staff interacting with the residents of only with each other?
  • Do visiting family members look happy? (It’s OK to ask them!)
  • Are the residents treated with dignity?
  • What tone of voice do staff speak to residents in?

Quality of Life

  • Are there a variety of activities offered?
  • Are activities offered throughout the day, into the evening and on weekends and holidays?
  • When observing activities, are the residents actively engaged?
  • Is staff working hard to keep residents actively involved in programs?
  • Are there many residents in attendance or only a small group?
  • Are most residents in activities or sitting around the nurses’ station unoccupied?


  • Are the menus readily available for you to view?
  • Are there a variety of alternate choices for residents who do not like the main dishes?
  • Is the menu nutritionally balanced?
  • What types of diets do they offer for special health needs?
  • Are there sufficient staff available to help residents in the dining room?
  • Are family members able to join their loved ones for meals?

As you tour, keep these questions in mind, but also be realistic. You may have a group of residents around the nurses’ station when you tour because they are fall risks and require extra supervision at that particular time of day. You may see more residents in bed because that’s their preferred rest time or they have medical needs that require them to spend time in bed. If you think you’ve found the facility for you, visit more than once at different times of day to get a clearer picture.

Errand Works is here to support you. We know that looking for a care facility takes time and can be emotional. If you need someone to keep your loved one company while you tour or someone to take over household errands for you while you invest your time in this important decision, give us a call. We are here to simplify your life.

Errand Works, LLC, is licensed, bonded and insured. Every errand runner must pass a Virginia State Criminal Background Check prior to being hired. In addition, each errand runner is a Virginia State Notary. Errand Works currently serves Prince William County, Fauquier County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the surrounding areas.