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You Can’t Judge A Nursing Home By The Color Of Its Walls

By Paula Skweres, Senior Care Consultant, Elderwerks


As a Senior Care Consultant for Elderwerks, I try very hard to make sure families choose the best community for their loved ones based upon their loved-ones’ needs. My own family had to move my mother-in-law to a dementia community. We looked at the communities in the area, set up tours, toured during different times of the day to learn about the interaction between residents and staff, talked to other families whose loved ones were there…in other words we did our homework.  


When I work with families looking for a nursing home for their senior loved ones, I try to give them as much guidance as they will accept so they can make an educated and informed decision. This decision should be based upon facts by investigating the care and environment of the community. There are times, however, when I’ll talk to the family and be told they didn’t like this community because “they didn’t like the colors of the walls” or they thought “it looked old”. I know this is an emotional time in their lives but this shouldn’t be an emotional decision.


Unfortunately there will always be those places we don’t prefer because of their décor or the furniture is old. Are we placing our loved ones in a hotel where they’re going to stay for a weekend? Or are we making a long term decision that may last several months or the rest of their life? Of course we want to make sure we choose a community that’s clean and appealing, but if the furniture is old is that a reason to omit that community from consideration?


When you narrow down the list of communities within your budget or geographic area, take along a checklist to make sure you ask the right questions and look at the community from the inside out. Prioritize what you’re looking for in a community. If your priority is rehabilitation, really check out their rehab center, the organization running it (in-house or external contract), talk to others who have used it, interview physical therapists and watch while other people are getting their rehab. If their patients rooms have hospital beds rather than 4-poster beds, who cares? Your goal is to get your loved one well and back home. Of course, part of rehab is the environment. I know from personal experience when my aunt went into rehab that the environment she was in helped in her recovery. You need to understand what your loved one feels is important and take their wants and needs into consideration rather than your own.


I also talk with families who tell me “it’s too far to drive to that community”. This decision is not about you. It’s about the person needing care.  I can empathize with the families I assist. I’ve been there many times within the past couple of years with my own family. What I’ve learned is to think about what is best for our loved one. We also didn’t care it took us an hour to drive there. When we had to move my mother-in-law to a dementia care facility, did she care about the communities with oriental rugs or oil paintings? Of course they are beautiful places but she is a down to earth person and has always lived simply. A better environment for her is something simple, easy to maneuver, with minimal distractions.  


If you’re looking for a skilled nursing home that will eventually be a long term placement for your loved one, there are many aspects to take into consideration. 


Skilled nursing homes are reviewed yearly by the Department of Public Health. These reviews will list deficiencies, violations and how the community worked to remedy the situation. By law, all nursing homes must provide the potential resident or their family with a copy of this document. The first thing you should do when touring a nursing home is to ask for this document so you can review it to determine if it’s the best place for your loved one.

Taking a tour of the potential community is a way to determine if happy staff and residents are part of the environment. That is more important than up to date decorating.

If your family member needs a specialized treatment, for example dialysis, does the facility provide this in-house or will they need to be transported three times a week to a dialysis center? If your family member has dementia, does the care facility provide this specialized type of care management? Does the Staff create a home like setting and really cares about the residents needs as the priority?

If you need assistance in finding the best community for your loved one or would like a copy of a checklist of questions to ask when touring a community, please give me a call at 224-500-6674 or email

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Finding assisted living or other types of senior care can be overwhelming and a time-consuming task. Elderwerks is a relationship-based company. We are dedicated to our families 24/7.

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For your complimentary, individual consultation, or for help touring an assisted living community, call an Elderwerks Consultant today at 855-462-0100.


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