What To (And Not To) Expect From Nursing Homes 

What To Expect From Nursing Homes

We can all agree that going into a nursing home when we get older is not something that people particularly look forward to. 

However, at some point in life, a time will come when you might need long-term care, and most of the time, you can’t expect family members to care for you as they also have their own lives.

Hence, being open to other options like nursing homes is a must; one way to prepare for it is by managing your expectations. So, in this article, we will give you an idea and what you can and cannot expect from nursing homes.

What To Expect From A Good Nursing Home

1. Safety

Safety is one of your priorities if you consider going into a nursing home, and be sure to have high expectations. 

Here’s what you can expect from a nursing home regarding safety:

  • Equipment is kept up to date, and managers should search for methods to increase safety. You ought to have faith in the security and safety of your possessions.
  • There should always be enough trained personnel to keep you secure.
  • A quality nursing home must safeguard you against abuse, harassment, harm, and bullying. Neglect and financial abuse are both forms of abuse.
  • Staff responds to mishaps and accidents promptly and transparently (and, if necessary, looks into them), and they take lessons from their mistakes.
  • Despite your disability or other needs, you get the maximum freedom to do what you want to while feeling comfortable and protected by the personnel.
  • The staff will securely administer and properly keep your medication. The home encourages you to be as independent as possible by including you in reviewing your medications.
  • You and the other residents won’t risk contracting an infection because the facilities are sanitary.

2. Effectiveness

When considering a nursing home, one of everyone’s expectations is that the service they offer is effective and quality; after all, they are meant to cater to your needs to keep you healthy and happy.

Here are some things you should look out for to say that a nursing home is effective:

  • You are frequently questioned about the standard and selection of the food and other aspects of the residence, and you continuously provide positive feedback.
  • The team ensures you eat a proper meal and beverages.
  • The staff’s expertise, credentials, and abilities in their respective positions will enhance your quality of life.
  • You are constantly requested to give informed consent (approval) to your care, treatment, and support. When appropriate, your loved ones and friends may also be included in care decision-making.
  • The team gives you as much choice and control as possible, given their knowledge of your medical requirements and personal preferences.
  • To maintain your health, staff members consult with GPs and other health and social care experts and take the appropriate action when necessary.
  • When your room is modified or decorated, you are consulted about your preferences and requirements. Any alterations to the room are done to increase your level of independence.

3. Caring

A good nursing home should be caring since its main purpose is to provide care to its residents. 

Here are some tell-tale of a caring nursing home:

  • Staff are aware of your background, preferences, aspirations, and needs. This includes any special requirements brought on by your age, condition, gender identity, color, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • No matter how complicated your needs are, you are encouraged to voice your opinions.
  • You can contact advocates (people who can speak on your behalf).
  • Staff members are also aware of your preferences for care at the end of your life, if applicable.
  • The staff treats you with respect and courtesy. They invest time with you, build relationships of trust, and show interest in your well.
  • You have adequate solitude.

4. Well-Managed

Another aspect of a good nursing home is being well-led and managed. Since many staff and professionals will be responsible for your and other residents’ well-being, managers must be aware of their responsibilities and able to manage their people effectively to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.

Here are some expectations for a well-led nursing home:

  • Managers are always truthful and aware of their obligations, even when things go wrong.
  • The workforce is content with their jobs and aware of what is expected of them.
  • Managers are often ready to assist their employees.
  • Concerns regarding the care of coworkers, caregivers, and other professionals are openly expressed by staff. Individuals are encouraged when this occurs, and their worries are carefully examined.

5. Responsive 

Lastly, you should expect that nursing homes are responsive to your needs; after all, you are there to ensure that you are getting your aging needs attended to and met.

Here are other expectations you should have regarding the responsiveness of a good nursing home:

  • A documented plan outlining your care, treatment, and support outlines what personnel must do to guarantee that you receive individualized care.
  • This plan has been actively developed with the participation of you, your family, and your friends, when applicable. You should have the option of choosing who gives you personal care, such as assistance with dressing and washing.
  • All people who need to be informed, such as your care staff, are kept informed when your requirements and preferences change.
  • The plan contains details about your life, such as your objectives, capacities, and intended approach to managing your health. An action plan for your health can also exist.
  • The staff makes an effort to keep you from feeling lonely. They assist you in doing this by facilitating communication with your loved ones and friends.
  • The staff can also assist you in continuing your activities and, if you choose, in participating in your community.
  • The hospital staff will work with you to ensure your visit goes as smoothly as possible if you need to go there.
  • The staff always takes complaints and issues seriously, thoroughly investigates them, and swiftly responds.

What Not To Expect From Nursing Homes

1. Don’t expect a one-to-one ratio.

The purpose of nursing homes is to care for the patients they house. However, that care (and the money for it) differs from the individualized attention that families might have been able to give a loved one at home. You can count on getting assistance as quickly as possible. Depending on the needs of the other residents at that time, it could take a while for someone to respond if the call light is on.

2. Don’t expect the same routine.

To create a routine that works for the resident, the staff should enquire about the person’s preferences and history. Even though things could alter slightly from how they were at home, resident preferences should be respected to the greatest extent possible.

3. Don’t expect that all medications will stay the same.

One of the most heavily regulated industries in the US is the nursing home sector. These rules govern the amounts and varieties of medications residents take. For instance, while the hospital (or family) might have been able to give you or your loved one a sleeping pill every night, the nursing home should explore alternatives before doing this regularly because these medications can raise the risk of falls.

4. Don’t expect perfection.

Everybody knows there is no such thing as perfection in life; regrettably, a nursing home is not where you’ll find it. The facility won’t provide your relatives with ideal care. Please let them know when there is something they can do better. Effectively advocate for the resident by speaking to the manager calmly about your concern (we know there are always things we might do better!). A good supervisor will appreciate when a resident or family member advises on providing better care for the person.

5. Don’t expect a large, private room.

Unexpected placement of a family member in a nursing home occurs occasionally. It’s possible that he fell, shattered his hip, underwent surgery, went to the hospital, and is now in a strange location. Even while a private room is an option, you should be aware that it might not always be accessible.

6. Don’t expect that falls will never happen.

Speaking about falling, you should take a moment if you’re putting your mother in a nursing home to prevent her from doing so. Facilities should assess the risk of falls and conduct treatments specific to each resident to lower the risk of falls, although they can’t always stop all falls from happening. Many facilities are restraint-free for the residents’ safety since restraints, including full-length bed rails, pose serious patient risks.

7. Don’t expect the family’s stress to disappear fully.

Residents may experience shame and anguish as they witness the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or the aftereffects of a stroke, which may reflect their family members’ inevitable decline and passing. Even if the primary hands-on caregiver is exhausted and burnt out, learning to adjust to not being that caregiver can be a big loss. This stress can be reduced through many ways, such as by participating in support groups, obtaining assurance that the loved one’s needs are being addressed, and receiving reassurance.

8. Don’t expect all facilities to be dreadful.

There are indeed some poor nursing facilities and staff members who don’t care about the residents. However, there are also many excellent facilities with staff members that genuinely care about the residents and go above and beyond. Many people working in nursing homes want to do a good job and feel it is their duty and calling.

9. Don’t expect that the resident will never adjust.

Understandably, most people need time to become used to living in a nursing home and for the staff to know the residents’ personalities and needs. Although there is no assurance that the resident will live happily ever after, I have known numerous people who have led happy, fulfilling lives while residing in nursing homes. Fostering supportive relationships, offering practical options, and providing fulfilling activities can help residents adjust and raise their quality of life in nursing homes.


It can be perplexing and upsetting to be a nursing home resident yourself or with a loved one. The success of your or your loved one’s stay in a nursing home will be strongly impacted by your knowledge of the various facets of such care and your ability to effectively address any problems that may come up.

One of the important aspects of nursing homes that you need to understand is that your expectations may differ from their reality. Hence, you must have realistic expectations about the nursing home environment and the care you or your loved one will receive. 

You can do this by researching and learning about what to expect and what not to expect. This way, you’ll know when to compromise or, if you can, which can contribute to deciding whether the nursing home is the right place for you.