High-quality post-acute care can significantly increase a patient’s rate of recovery. Finding a skilled nursing facility that’s right for you or your loved one can help you avoid unnecessary readmissions to the hospital and decrease overall healthcare costs. Below we have outlined seven key areas within skilled nursing that you should evaluate when comparing facilities. Follow this checklist to identify the provider that best fits your needs.

Basic Information

  • Medicare/Medicaid certification
  • Provides necessary skilled care, special services, and has an available bed
  • Visiting hours
  • Residents are clean and appropriately dressed

Living Spaces

  • No unpleasant odors
  • Facilities are clean and well-kept
  • Noise levels
  • Smoking is prohibited or restricted to certain areas
  • Facility is well furnished
  • Temperature is comfortable and there is good lighting


  • Good relationships with residents
  • Staff members knock on doors before entering
  • Background checks
  • Full-time registered nurse (RN) available at all times
  • Rotations of nurses and staff members working with a given resident
  • Reasonable ratio of staff members to patients
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are involved with care planning meetings
  • How often is a licensed doctor available
  • How long has the management team worked together

Residents’ Rooms

  • Residents may have personal belongings
  • Personal storage space
  • Adequate windows and natural light
  • Access to personal phone and television
  • Roommate selection
  • Protection of personal possessions

Common Spaces

  • Exits are clearly marked
  • Visiting areas are quiet and well-kept
  • Appropriate safety features (emergency evacuation plan, smoke detectors, sprinklers, etc.)
  • All areas are wheelchair accessible
  • Handrails and grab bars

Dining and Activities

  • Choice of foods
  • Nutritious snacks
  • Assistance in eating
  • Variety of activities offered
  • Outdoor areas for residents to use
  • Volunteer programs

Safety and Care

  • Preventative care (flu shots, etc.)
  • Residents may see their regular doctors
  • Coordination with local hospitals in case of emergencies
  • Care planning meetings are scheduled with residents and family members
  • Facility has corrected all deficiencies from last state inspection

Download this information as a PDF: Skilled Nursing Checklist

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