My mother’s needs have recently progressed to a level of care that I am unable and unqualified to provide. I used to love your old nursinghomeguide.org but now that it’s gone, where else can I go? What steps can I take to make sure she’s placed into a good nursing home?
Vexed in Ventura
Dear Vexed in Ventura:
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has two public websites that provide information on every licensed nursing home, including Medicare and Medi-Cal status, and the history of complaints, deficiencies (violations) and citations (financial penalties). It is best to avoid nursing homes that have many complaints, deficiencies or citations. These websites are Cal Health Find and The Health Facilities Consumer Information System (which Cal Health Find was intended to replace). Each of these websites has their own strengths and weaknesses.
ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect site also provides access to nursing home inspection histories, with advanced search features. There are also two popular websites that use nursing home rating systems. These are Nursing Home Compare (operated by Medicare) and CalQualityCare (managed by the University of California, San Francisco and the Institute for Health and Aging). Although the ratings have serious limitations, they can be useful in narrowing your choice.
One can also look on Yelp or other web-based review sites, which offer a more personal perspective. Use your best judgement when considering online reviews.
Ask detailed questions, seek references and try for a nursing home that is close to the individual who will be visiting the resident most often. Additionally, use CANHR’s Nursing Home Evaluation Checklist to help you evaluate facilities under consideration.
For additional information on this subject, visit our factsheet How to Choose a Nursing Home.