Choosing a nursing home for yourself or a loved one is a very important decision. Discuss the issue thoroughly with the individual involved and his or her personal physician. Consider what the travel limits are for those who will be visiting the person receiving services and identify the communities and nursing homes within those limits. For help and information on facility locations and specialized services you should contact several of the consumer and provider organizations included in the Resource List.

Step 1: Gather Information and Prepare for a Personal Visit to the Nursing Home

  • Contact the facility's admissions representative to schedule an appointment for an informational meeting and tour of each facility. Ask for a copy of the facility's brochure, admissions policies, and the resident's bill of rights.
  • Contact the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and ask to speak with the ombudsman who covers the facilities you are interested in.
  • Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification at or call (617) 753-8000 to get the "Survey Performance Tool for Nursing Homes" or a copy of survey findings and complaint reports for the facilities under consideration.

Step 2: Visit Each of the Nursing Homes

  • Visit the nursing home and meet with the admissions representative or administrator.
  • Tour the nursing home and observe staff interactions with residents.
  • Take the time to speak with residents and family members about their experiences.
  • Ask questions and make observations. For assistance with this task click on Suggested Topics & Questions.

Step 3: Narrow Your Choices and Make a Selection

  • Narrow choices and re-visit the facilities under consideration again at a different time of day if possible.
  • Contact the admissions staff for advise about the admission process.
  • Meet with the administrator and key staff to discuss specific concerns you may have about care needs and personal preferences.
  • Ask to participate in care planning decisions.
  • Be sure to visit often and remain involved in your loved one's ongoing care.