If you are beginning the search for a nursing home where your elderly loved one will receive the best care, what, exactly, do you look for? How do you determine “excellence”?

The well-being of your loved one is a top priority; incidents of neglect or abuse must never arise. You want to find a facility that meets your criteria, but first, you must understand the meaning of nursing home best practices.

Adheres to requirements

Make sure the nursing home you eventually choose is properly licensed and complies with both state and federal regulatory requirements. Give high marks to any facility that has acquired voluntary accreditation through the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. The facility should also have a 4- or 5-star rating from Medicare, and state surveys should show no significant deficiencies in resident care.

Person-centered care

Every staff member should demonstrate respect for residents and preserve their dignity. Resident accommodations should allow personalization and should appear homey and comfortable. The facility should provide menu options, a choice of daily activities and options as to how residents bathe, dress and eat.

Visit and compare

It is important for you to visit facilities in-person so you can make an informed decision on behalf of your loved one. Understand how Medicare ratings work. A lower rating does not necessarily mean poor care: The nursing home may take very ill or fragile patients who have chronic pain or who are more prone to falling than the healthier, more stable patients in another facility. Look for a facility with low staff turnover, a sign of good management and satisfied employees.

Continue monitoring

Once you have chosen a nursing home and the new resident has settled in, be diligent about monitoring the arrangement. Establish rapport with staff; let them know you will visit your loved one often and look forward to receiving ongoing status reports from the team. Look for any signs of anxiety, discomfort or unexplained injuries. Learn about your legal options in the event that you suspect any kind of negligence in caregiving. You have a right to expect the nursing home to exercise best practices in caring for your loved one.