When you face the decision to entrust a loved one to a Virginia nursing home, safety should be a primary concern. Fortunately, with the help of modern technology, Medicare.gov has an overview of the federal standards for nursing home certification along with ratings and side-by-side comparisons readily available online.

Each state nursing home that wishes to continue receiving Medicare and Medicaid compensation must undergo an annual inspection by The Virginia Department of Health to evaluate standards such as:

  • Emergency preparedness
  • Medication management procedures
  • Sufficient staffing ratios
  • Fire response readiness
  • Food safety standards
  • Physical and mental abuse protection procedures

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also assigns each nursing home a health inspection rating using a five-star system. You can find the health rating along with staffing and quality of resident care ratings for each facility using the Nursing Home Compare tool on the Medicare website.

When you and your loved one visit your top nursing home selections, follow up on any of the three rating categories in which you feel the facility has underperformed. Ask specific questions like “Is the home addressing citations?” or “Are there plans to hire additional staff?” Ask to see the nursing home’s most recent state survey — they are required to keep a copy, and failure to produce the report might be a red flag.

Finally, evaluate the home’s overall appearance during your visit. Indications of an unclean environment could mean the potential for infectious disease, and a disorganized facility may lead to accidental slips, trips or falls, as well as cause delays in emergency response.