Choosing a Nursing Center

Florida is home to 682 skilled nursing centers, more than 500 of which are members of the Florida Health Care Association. In these centers, more than 70,000 residents receive the kind of skilled care they cannot receive in other settings.

Today’s nursing centers serve both old and young, both those in need of extended long term care and those who expect to return to the community. The goal of care in a skilled nursing center is to help individuals maintain their quality of life by meeting their daily physical, social, medical and psychological needs.

Facility Locator

Questions To Think About

Multiple factors come into play when evaluating nursing centers. Remember, each resident — young, elderly, ambulatory, non-ambulatory or with a disability — has different needs, preferences and desires that should be taken into account in the selection of a facility.

Medical – Are other medical professionals (dentists, podiatrists, optometrists) available, and are therapy programs (physical, occupational, speech, pathologist) available? Does the facility have an arrangement with a nearby hospital, and will a bed be available after hospitalization? How are prescription drugs ordered?

Costs – What services are covered in the basic charge? Request a list of specific services not covered in the basic rate. Does the center accept Medicaid and/or Medicare, if that coverage is needed?

Care Planning – Does the center provide services for terminally ill patients and their families? Does it offer special programs or housing for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?

Patient Rights/Autonomy – What are the patient’s rights and responsibilities? When are restraining devices recommended, and why? Does the facility have a Resident Council, and a family council in which you can participate?

Licensure and Certification – Is the center certified to provide Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage if it is needed by the resident? Is the latest state inspection available for review? Does the center have a formal quality assurance program?

Location – Is the center pleasing to the resident and conveniently located for frequent visits from family and friends?

Ambience – Is it well-lighted, welcoming and attractive?

Staff – Do caregivers show respect and a positive attitude toward residents and others? Is the administrator available to answer questions, discuss problems or hear complaints?

Activities – Do activities planned for the week or month suit the needs and interests of your loved one? Are residents encouraged to participate?

Religion – If this is an important consideration, are religious services held on the premises or what individualized arrangements can be made for residents to worship?

Rooms – Ask to visit a typical room. Does the living space suit the needs of the resident? How are roommates selected? How are private items stored or secured? What is the policy for residents having a private telephone, television and personal decorations? Is there a nurse call bell by each bed? Is there fresh drinking water by each bed?

Dining – Observe mealtime at the center and see how the menu is managed. Ask to have the dining procedures explained to you. How are special dining or menu requests handled, and what arrangements will be made if residents are unable to eat in the dining room? Are snacks provided?

Cleanliness – Does the center have a pleasant smell, and is it as clean as you set your own personal standards?

Nursing centers are designed to be like a community where residents can feel comfortable, find familiar faces and build relationships just like they enjoyed in their own homes. By planning ahead, you can ensure that your loved one will be provided with the highest quality of care and quality of life.

Five Star Rating System

You are likely to come across five-star quality ratings while doing research to find the best skilled nursing center or rehabilitation care option for you or your family. The federal government uses the Nursing Home Compare tool, which is more commonly reported on by the media. This printable and downloadable guide explains how five-star ratings are determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and can help you compare nursing centers in your search for safe and high-quality long term care.

Florida also has the Nursing Home Guide which is managed by the Agency for Health Care Administration.