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What to Look for With Nursing Home Accessibility

Written by NHAbuseGuide on August 14, 2015

What to Look for With Nursing Home Accessibility

Whether it is for yourself or a loved one, the search for a nursing home should be geared towards finding the perfect place. This is going to be home for a long time, and you don’t want to settle for “okay”, “so-so” or “good enough”…you want it to be the best choice possible. That means asking all of the right questions about the care, the quality of the services, the food and activities, the rooms, and more.

One thing that you must give a great deal of attention to is accessibility. This is the general “moving around the place” that will make the difference between you (or your loved one) getting out and around every day or feeling like they shouldn’t bother because it is too difficult.

As a simple example, is there an outdoor area or garden that is entirely safe and secure, but which you or a loved one can also easily reach without a lot of difficulty or disruption? If getting a breath of fresh air, some scenery, or listening to the birds is important, then this is important too.

Let’s go over some of the biggest points relating to what you should look for with nursing home accessibility:

  • Are all of the common rooms (dining areas, activity rooms, exercise rooms, and other spaces) within a comfortable walking distance?
  • Can the residents feel independent?
  • Are the halls and public bathrooms large enough for wheelchairs or walkers?
  • Are the floor treatments safe (in other words, will you ever be at risk for slipping or tripping?)
  • Are the fire exits clearly marked? Have all residents been taught the emergency plans?
  • Are there smoke alarms in plain sight?
  • Does it seem that safety, security, and accessibility are important to the staff?
  • Are there handrails in the hallways and all other important locations?

Of course, accessibility for residents is a good thing, but only as far as it protects individuals as well. For example, is it possible for a resident to enter another resident’s room too easily? Is there accessibility in addition to security?

Bathrooms and Accessibility

Another key area where accessibility has to be taken into consideration is the bathroom. When you are first considering a nursing home, be sure that the bathrooms allow you or your loved one the kind of security and safety needed, but also privacy if possible.

For example, are there bathing devices that can allow someone to enjoy privacy while bathing, but also to remain safe and secure? Are the doorways and spaces inside the resident rooms’ bathrooms suitable for wheelchairs or walkers? Will the facility provide raised toilets when needed?

Programs and Accessibility

Nursing homes are also locations in which a lot of programs and activities tend to occur. Before choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, consider if the activities are accessible as well. By this, don’t just limit your thoughts to the spaces where activities are taking place, but also whether or not limitations are a concern. For example, if your loved one has cognitive limitations, will there be activities geared towards their needs? Is everyone in the facility being given a chance to access programs that are of benefit to their wellbeing?

There are many facets to accessibility, and you should choose a nursing home only after considering just how accessible it is to people with all needs. Also consider the safety and security within the premises as well. Independence is important, but a nursing home has to put safety first. If you feel your nursing home, or that of a loved one, is not meeting accessibility standards, speak with the administrator or even consider talking with an elder law expert.


About.com. Senior Living. Nursing Home. http://seniorliving.about.com/od/housingoptions/ss/findnursinghome.htm#showall

HHS.gov. Civil Rights. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/physical/


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