Most people plan their whole lives for major events; post-secondary education, career, purchasing a home, marriage, children etc. However most people do not plan to go to a nursing home. Usually the need arises at an unexpected time – major injury or health decline, or after a long journey of attempting to ‘make it work’ keeping your loved one at home. Whatever the reason may be, just know it is perfectly normal to feel lost. The right facility will be helpful, provide resources, and welcome you during your time of unknowns.

At Whittier Health Network we know that choosing a skilled nursing facility in MA for your parents is a big decision!  There are many factors to consider, such as the cost, the quality of care, and the location. To help guide you through the process, we have compiled some tips to help you choose the best nursing home for your parents.

Start your nursing home search early.

Finding the right skilled nursing facility can take time, so don’t wait until the last minute. We recommend that whenever possible, to start your search at least six months before your parents need to move.

If you foresee a need for long-term care for your loved one in the near future, even if you do not feel ready to send them to a nursing home, start ‘shopping’. Of the facilities you like, provide them with your contact information, add your loved one to the waiting list, and/or register for their email newsletters. Some facilities have a long wait list. If you have options when the need arises, you will have one less stressor on your plate,” says Brook Griffin, Administrator at Masconomet Healthcare Center.

Get recommendations from friends, family, and doctors.

Ask around for recommendations from people you trust. They may know of a nursing home that has a good reputation or that has been helpful to someone they know.

Do your research.

Once you have a few nursing homes in mind, it’s time to do some research. Visit the websites of the nursing homes and read reviews from former residents and their families. You can also call the state’s nursing home licensing agency to get more information about the nursing homes you’re considering. Medicare has valuable information on their website: what medicare covers and a nursing home compare that gives up-to-date rankings on nursing homes in your local area.

Visit the nursing homes in person.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices, visiting the nursing homes in person is your next step. This is your chance to see the facilities for yourself and meet the staff. Ask questions about the care your parents will receive, the cost of care, and the nursing home’s policies.

Trust your gut.

When you’re visiting nursing homes, pay attention to your gut feeling. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular nursing home, don’t choose it. Finding a nursing home you and your parents feel good about is important.

Kim Grasso, Administrative QA Consultant at Whittier Health Network, and former nursing home Administrator at several of our skilled nursing facilities says: “What I tell my friends and family is always stop by without an appointment to tour the building so you can see what the response is from the staff, it should be prompt and inviting. Always tour the facility and you will know if it is the right place by the vibe and if you get that warm fuzzy feeling from your visit!”

Here are some additional things to consider when choosing a nursing home for your parents:

  • The cost of skilled nursing care. Nursing home care can be expensive, so it’s essential to consider the cost when making your decision. You may be able to get financial assistance from Medicare, Medicaid, or your parent’s long-term care insurance.
  • The quality of long term care. The quality of care is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a nursing home / long term care facility. Make sure to ask questions about the staff’s qualifications and experience. You should also ask about the nursing home’s infection control practices and its record of falls and other accidents.
  • The location. The location of the nursing home is also essential to consider. If your parents have family or friends who live nearby, choose a nursing home that’s close to them. You should also consider the distance to the nursing home from your home.
  • The amenities. Some nursing homes offer more amenities than others. Make sure to ask about the nursing home’s amenities, such as a pool, a gym, or a library.
  • The culture. The culture of the nursing home is also essential to consider. Some nursing homes are more social than others. Make sure to ask about the nursing home’s activities and programs.

Before your initial contact with the skilled nursing facility, it’s helpful to prepare a checklist of questions you would like to have answered, and to be sure to have the information that the nursing home will need from your family. 

Be prepared to share your loved one’s medical history, current medical status, health insurance, secondary insurance and/or private fund information. These types of questions may seem invasive, but they are necessary to be able to answer – especially the medical portion. A facility cannot determine if they can safely care for your loved one if they do not have details on the care they require.

To help you get ready for your initial conversation with the facility’s admissions coordinator, we have prepared a reference sheet for you to use.


Download this Nursing Home Checklist to help you with your visit.

Choosing a nursing home, How do I pick the best nursing home in Massachusetts for my parents?

Choosing a nursing home for your parents is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

By following our tips, you can find the best nursing home in Massachusetts for your parents and their needs. We invite you to visit one of our skilled nursing facilities closest to you and to meet with our admissions team who will answer your questions and help you through the process!

Please visit one of our Massachusetts skilled nursing facility pages for contact information.