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What to Look for With Nursing Home Staff

Written by NHAbuseGuide on August 13, 2015

What to Look for With Nursing Home Staff

If you ask the experts at Medicare what to look for with nursing home staff, they have several key points to consider:

  • Is there enough?
  • Will the same folks take care of you or your loved one each day or is it someone different all of the time?
  • Does the facility make the details about nurses available? For example, are there CNAs?
  • What is the ratio of nurses and/or CNAs to patients on each shift or during each activity or meal?
  • Is there therapeutic staff as well as medical staff?
  • Is there a social worker?

Naturally, those are all fundamental issues that you must certainly consider. However, some of the questions are a bit vague, so we’ll get a bit more in-depth to be sure your decisions are made accordingly.

The Number

While you might feel that a specific number of nurses per patient or bed will be appropriate, there are other factors to consider. For example, what is the intensity of each patient’s needs? After all, an assisted living center in which almost everyone is mobile and independent means that intensity of care is much less than a nursing home in which few patients are mobile.

Ask about the staffing procedures based on acuity or patient need, and base your decision on that number. Does it seem like enough nurses and aids?

Then, consider if that ratio is workable at meal times or daytime activities. Does it seem realistic for the number of staff booked to handle everyone going to and from a dining room or activity space? If it seems that they will be stretched too thin, it is something to keep in mind.

Extra Staff

It is obligatory for a nursing home with more than 120 beds to have a social worker, but if you have considered a smaller setting, you may still want access to an advocate of some kind. This is particularly true if you are on your own or your family will not be paying a visit on a frequent basis. The social worker is someone who can be counted on to hear of your worries or concerns about quality of care, but also who will be attentive to your condition. This is a very essential someone on the staff of any nursing home.

Therapeutic services are excellent as well, especially in a rehabilitative or long-term facility. The types include physical, occupational, and speech therapists, but there are also some sites with art therapy and more. Ask about such staffing, as these options increase the overall quality of life for those in residence.

The Details

In addition to your facility making details about CNAs and nurses, you will want to consider a look at the Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare profile available. This will tell you about any penalties or fines the site has had, about staffing related issues, and it will provide a detailed description of anything that puts a patient at risk.

You also must pay a visit before making any final decisions – or ask a trusted family member to do so for you. During the visit, watch how patients and staff interact, see if the staff members seem overwhelmed, fatigued, short-tempered or tired. If so, it could be a matter of insufficient staffing, and that could put you at risk.

Staffing is an important matter. Nursing homes are under increasing pressures to offer the best training, hiring, and oversight possible. Be sure you give attention to the quality of the staff, as these are the people that will provide you or a loved one with daily care. If you feel someone is not behaving professionally, do not hesitate to contact the administration, the authorities, and your attorney.


Medicare.gov. Guide to Choosing… https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02174.pdf

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