How to Choose a Long-Term Care Home in 2022

February 7, 2022 0

Sending an elderly family member to a long-term care home sometimes feels like placing a bet, and a series of obstacles that follow make the process even more daunting. Weighing the pros and cons of each community, not to mention the number of options, can be highly Taxing. You have probably heard many terrible stories about how things can go wrong in a care home. Thus, setting metrics for your selection has become vital at this point.

After doing lots of research and talking to our professionals, we are here to provide you with a set of pointers to help you size up a long-term care home

Today you will learn:

  1.     What to look for when choosing a long-term care home.

  2.     How to evaluate a long-term care home.

What to look for when choosing a long-term care home:

Here’s a checklist of what you should consider.

Things should check before visiting:

–       Is the community accredited?

             –       Have any critical incidents/complaints/abuse reports happened in its history?

             –       Do they still accept new residents?

–       How long is the waitlist?

–       What are the waitlist rules (do they prioritize the people in critical situations?)

–       Do they offer tours, and how do you book one?

Things to check during the visit:

Physical Surroundings:

  1.     Is the community conveniently located for family members to visit?

  2.     Whether there public transit in the area?

  3.     Is the community clean, well maintained, and nicely decorated?

  4.     Would be the neighborhood smoke-free, or are there areas where smoking is prohibited?

  5.     Is a community nurse call system provided in each room?

  6.     Are there accessible emergency call devices equipped around beds and toilets?

  7.     Are the locks on residents’ room doors/washroom doors readily releasable and easy to open outside?

  8.     Is the room temperature controlled separately in each room?

  9.     What types of rooms do they provide?

  10.     What furnishings does the community provide?

  11.     Is there a safe outdoor environment accessible for the residents?

  12.     Are there clear signs for residents to get around the community?

  13.     Is it easy for inhabitants to access phones, television, and the internet?

  14.     Are there specific units for residents with dementia?

Resident Care:

  1.     Does the community have policies regarding residents’ privacy and safety?

  2.     Are there doctors on call?

  3.     Do they have procedures in place in case of an emergency?

  4.     Do the residents have flexible daily routines?

  5.     Is there a wide variety of recreational activities provided (more than 10)?

  6.     Are the residents taken to the activities if they cannot go on their own?

  7.     Can residents choose their meals?

  8.     Are healthy snacks available and accessible between the meals?

  9.     Can residents bring their furniture?

  10. Are there spiritual/religious services provided?

  11. Do they provide personal care services (hairdresser, barber, etc.)?


  1.     Does the staff seem friendly to the residents?

  2.     Do the caregivers seem to talk to the residents with respect?

  3.     Is there a healthy rapport between the residents and the staff?

  4.     Do the staff patiently answer your questions?

  5.     What is the caregiver to resident ratio? (The support worker to resident ratio in most Ontario long-term care homes is 10:1)


  1.     Do the residents look generally happy, friendly, and well-dressed?

  2.     Do you and your family members feel welcome while visiting?

How to evaluate a Long-Term Care Home:

  1.    Use certifying agency searching tools:

Some local public agency websites provide complete reports of long-term care homes in the area. For example, provides details of inspection and licensed beds in long-term care communities within Ontario. Check these sites to see if the homes you’ve selected are certified.

You can also see the history of critical incidents and complaints inspections on a government website like or (the U.S.). Try to pay special attention to their past three years of critical incident inspection reports. Note that the lower the number of health citations, the better the community performs in the inspection.

  1.    Call the community:

Call the long-term care homes before you visit. Ask if they still accept new residents and find out about waiting lists. If your loved one is over 80 years old or has severe physical/mental impairment, ask them if they could prioritize applicants in critical conditions. Figure out these questions before you go there.

  1.    Tour the Long-Term Care Home and take notes:

When you arrive at the long-term care home, calculate how long it takes to get there.  If it is convenient for you to get there, it will give the care workers a sense that their services are being watched and you are actively involved in your loved one’s living. Also, ask yourself if you feel the surrounding area is quiet and safe. Since you never want your loved one to live in a noisy and dangerous neighborhood that has many break-in cases.

It is helpful to print and bring the checklist we provided with you. Aesthetically appealing furnishing is desirable, but don’t be impressed just by that. It is better to walk around and check wherever the residents may access. Pay attention to the details, and jot them down. Also, don’t forget to smell – it is a non-neglected indicator of the community’s cleanliness.

  1.    Talk to the caregivers:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! They should understand your concerns. Ask how they take care of the residents, and observe if they are patient when answering your questions. Then, you can ask yourself if you feel comfortable with their response and attitude – they likely communicate with the residents the same way.

  1.    Ask for references:

Ask to speak to the families that have their loved ones living there, and ask the questions above to see how well the community has held up. If the staff at home seem reluctant to have you speak to families, this is not a good sign.

  1.   Check online reviews:

Using professional agency review sites is not the only way to help you find out the community’s accreditation. You can also go to online review platforms such as Google Reviews to search about the general feedback for the long-term care home or use professional agency review sites such as Medicare to find out their accreditation. Recruiting sites are also helpful. You can use Indeed or LinkedIn to see how staff rate the home and check the hiring requirements of the community so that you’ll know if they perform background checks and training for the employees.

  1.   Revisit the facility:

You can drop by unannounced on another day. If you can, try to visit the community at a different time to get a sense of how caregivers interact with the residents. If you haven’t seen it there at mealtime, this is time for you to do so. Ask them if you can buy their meals to investigate the quality and the taste of the food. Sometimes a second visit can either confirm the community is suitable for your family or turns out the total opposite.



Try to search and visit several long-term care homes (preferably five of them) instead of just focusing on just one. Put each of them into the checklist and use checkmarks to evaluate if they meet the requirements. Taking time to do the comprehensive research on choosing the best long-term care home might sound arduous, but at the end of the day, it will give you peace about your selection and secure a better quality of life for your loved one.

Download the free checklist.




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Sharon Zhou

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      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.

      Copyright by Emersewell Inc. 2020. All rights reserved.