Choosing the right care setting and navigating the various short- and long-term care options can seem overwhelming. Whether you are seeking outpatient rehabilitation for yourself or post-acute skilled nursing care for a loved one, associates at Life Care Centers of America understand the decisions you face. We are committed to providing superior nursing home and short- or long-term care, as well as in- and outpatient rehabilitation services. Life Care wants you to find the facility that is best for you or your loved one, even if it’s not with us.

Beginning your search

Discuss the type of services your loved one needs with his or her physician. Obtain a list of area care centers offering those services from either the doctor, a social worker or a case manager. You can also get recommendations from friends, neighbors and your church.


Call the nursing centers on your list and speak with their directors of admissions to ask questions and schedule a tour.


When you take the tour of the facility, be certain to request introductions with the heads of departments, such as nursing, dietary, social services, housekeeping, laundry, environmental services and administrators. Reserve your questions of pricing until you’ve completed the tour and can discuss the matter with the admissions director. Price considerations will be better understood once you’ve seen what the facility has to offer.


As you tour the nursing centers, it is highly encouraged that you bring a notebook, especially if you are visiting multiple facilities. This enables you to write down the things you like and dislike about each facility, as well as any details your tour guide might share that are important.


Most importantly, use all five senses when touring the building. There are basic considerations to be aware of for each sense:


A good care center will have a well-maintained building and grounds. The landscaping and yard work will be cared for. Inside, the facility will be brightly lit, cheerful and attractive. The decorations and interior design will be homelike and inviting. Floors will be clean and shiny, curtains fresh and straight, and walls free of dirty marks and blemishes. The patient and resident rooms should be neat, tidy and cheerful. The patients and residents should be clean, well-groomed and properly dressed. Watch for interactions between staff members and patients or residents and consider if they are positive and friendly.

In a good care center, the food is served hot, fresh and delicious. The facility will provide only the best food and prepare it in a wonderful way. Meats will be tender, milk cold, vegetables firm and bread soft. The staff will want to try to accommodate all taste needs, and should be willing for you to taste the food. Consider if it is something you would be willing to eat and serve to your own family.

A good care center has a clean, pleasant smell that will be enjoyed by the staff, residents and guests alike. Note the presence of any odors, especially unpleasant ones, and question your tour guide about them if you notice any. Keep in mind, all care facilities experience patients or residents who may have accidents outside of their rooms, but these occurrences should be immediately addressed and any associated smells should be short lived, localized and not recurring or lingering.

A good care center will pay attention to the little details. The temperature in the building should feel comfortable and the air should be neither dry nor overly humid. Furniture should be dusted, polished and washed regularly. Hallway, restroom and resident room railings should be clean and attached firmly and securely to walls. Everything you touch should feel clean and free from stuck-on grime and dirt, including the floor beneath your feet. Touch the linens on the beds and make sure they are soft and comfortable. Look to see if there is dust behind the beds or in the closets.

In a good care center, the residents, patients, families and staff sound pleasant and happy. They speak with one another in familiar, friendly ways. Speak to residents and patients you pass in the hall, ask of they like it at the facility (remember, some residents and patients may not have clarity of thought or expression). If you see family members visiting loved ones, ask if they have been satisfied with the care and services and ask them to tell you about the personal attention and quality care they receive from the staff. Finally, the staff should gladly answer your questions and listen to your concerns.

After the tour

When you complete your tour, spend a few more minutes with the admissions director. Address any pricing questions you have. You should also ask if the center participates in quality assurance programs such as The Joint Commission, which evaluates the center’s quality of care and operations to determine compliance with national health and safety standards.


Finally, all facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs are surveyed and rated annually to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. Inquire about the facility’s survey results and related CMS rating.

Making the Decision

Once you have gathered all of the information and toured all of your options for nursing centers, take some time to make your final decision. Consider everything you experienced, from the five senses test to the friendliness of the person who gave you the tour. Go over the notes you took during your tour and compare the benefits, services and amenities that each facility has to offer and the financial requirements necessary. You’ll also want to consider the building locations, taking into account the travel times of those who would be most likely to visit your loved one or respond to the facility in the event of an emergency.


Finally, remember to review the information you’ve gathered with the loved one who will be living at the facility, your family and any other important individuals who need to be a part of this decision. Ultimately, choosing the right care setting and navigating the various short and long-term care options is a decision that can only be made by you, and Life Care hopes you are able to find the facility that is best for you or your loved one, even if it’s not with us.