AARP Next Move Starter Kit Includes

Checking for Quality

People fare better when they live near what’s dear to them – friends, family, congregation. But once you find a facility in the right spot, make sure it’s a good one.

To begin evaluating a residential facility, schedule a tour. Quiz the manager on how the facility addresses a resident’s specific and changing needs. Then make unscheduled visits. Ask residents what they enjoy about the community and what goes on during the day. Will your relative fit in?

Most states license residential facilities. To discover your state’s licensing requirements, start with the department of health.

If it’s home health care you’re seeking, look for an agency that hires its own employees, rather than using independent contractors, says Paul Hogan, chairman of Home Instead Senior Care and coauthor of Stages of Senior Care: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Making the Best Decisions. Make sure a supervisor occasionally visits your relative’s home to see how everything is going, says Hogan. And don’t expect a perfect match the first time. If you have concerns, tell the care provider and possibly the management, too. When hiring in-home care, patience and perseverance pay.

For both residential facilities and home health care, ask about accreditation, a credential awarded by one of several private agencies.

Also consider these two websites, both of which rank nursing homes based on Medicare inspection data: Caregiverlist, Inc. ( and the Medicare and Medicaid Nursing Home Compare guide (

AARP Magazine (June/July 2012)