Choosing a Nursing Home
and the Admissions Contract
Request a Tour of the Entire Home
  • Are the rooms and corridors clean, tidy and free of urine odor?
  • Is there a nurse call system by each bed?
  • Is there fresh drinking water at the bedside?
  • Do residents have their own belongings in their rooms?
  • Are certain areas of the facility more desirable than others?
  • Are there privacy curtains, bed stands and individual closets in each room?
  • Are the most recent survey reports from the State Inspectors posted in a public place?

Visit During Meal Time

  • Does the food look appetizing?
  • Do the residents dine together and talk to each other?
  • Are aides assisting residents who need help with eating?

Observe Interaction Between Residents and Staff

  • Do the nurses and aides treat residents with respect?
  • Is the staff attentive to resident's needs?
  • Does there seem to be enough staff?
  • Are the residents properly dressed, clean and active?
  • Is there an atmosphere of warmth and friendliness?
  • If possible, speak with some of the residents and family members. Get their impressions of the nursing home.

Inquire About Services the Home Provides

  • Are social and recreational services are offered? How often?
  • Does the home have a resident's council? Family council?
  • Does the home meet the dental, eye and hearing needs of residents?
  • Does the home provide physical, occupational and speech therapy?
  • Does the home have a program for the prevention and treatment of incontinence?
  • Does the home provide for the mental health needs of the residents?
  • What is the physician's name and telephone number?
  • How often does the doctor see residents?
  • Is the doctor available in emergencies?
  • Request a copy of the home's rules and policies.

The Nursing Staff

Certified Nurse Aides (CNA's) provide most of the care in nursing homes and largely determine the quality of care. A home with a high turnover of staff has great difficulty providing consistent good care.

What types of orientation and training is given to aides? How often? By whom? Is it updated and ongoing? How long have most of the nurse aides worked at the home?

Ask about the qualifications of other staff. Are there enough licensed nurses to provide supervision and assistance to the nurse aides?

Finances and Admission Contracts

If Medicaid and/or Medicare coverage is planned, either on admission on in the future, you must find out if the home is certified to participate in these programs. OTHERWISE, THE RESIDENT'S EXPENSES WILL NOT BE COVERED. If the source of payment is Medicaid, the nursing facility may say that there are no Medicaid beds available. If the facility is Medicaid-certified, this is erroneous information and you should contact the ombudsman.

Upon entering a nursing home, you will be asked to sign an admissions agreement. An admissions agreement is a contract that describes the legal relationship with the nursing home. The agreements you make in the admission contract are very important because they describe the services you receive, your rights and responsibilities, and the charges for your care.

If a nursing home is considering admitting you, ask for a copy of their admission contract as soon as possible. Most admission contracts are quite long and contain legal terms . The more time you, your representative or your attorney have to review the contract, the better. Some contracts may contain illegal requirements. A court would not enforce these requirements. Other requirements may be legal but unacceptable to you. You may negotiate agreements to change the contract.

Under federal law, Medicare/ Medicaid approved nursing homes cannot require anyone other than the resident to guarantee payment. Federal law also prohibits facilities from charging deposits or pre-admission fees to anyone whose nursing home care will be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

The admission contract should give the daily room rate and state the services it covers. The facility should also give you a list of optional services and the charges for them. It is important to find out what services are covered in the daily rate. Some facilities charge extra for common services that you might expect are covered by the daily rate.

Please review the attached checklist to help evaluate nursing homes that you are considering.

Admission Contract Checklist

You may want to use the following checklist when you sign the admission agreement to make sure everything is covered:

  • Services included in the daily rate;
  • Services for which there is an extra charge;
  • Source of payment, such as Medicare or Medicaid;
  • Cost to patient;
  • Terms of the security deposit, if any;
  • Resident's rights and grievance procedure;
  • Additional provisions agreed to by both parties;
  • Designation of patient representative, if desired by resident.

    At the signing, make sure you have:
  • A receipt for money deposited in the patient's trust fund, if any;
  • A receipt for the security deposit, if any;
  • A receipt for advanced payment;
  • A copy of the home's residents' rights policy and grievance procedure;
  • A copy of every other document you sign at admission.

    Make sure that the nursing home has attached to the contract:
  • Signed inventory of resident's clothing and personal belongings;
  • A copy of the patient representative form, if approved;
  • A copy of any additional agreements you have made with the home;
  • A copy of every other document you sign at admission;
  • An Ombudsman Program brochure.

Signing the Contract

The contract should be signed by the nursing home resident or his/her legal representative. Federal law prohibits Medicare/Medicaid approved homes from requiring anyone other than the resident to be financially responsible. If you are asked to sign the contract and are only agreeing to make payment out of the resident's funds, write that statement on the contract, sign it and make sure the nursing home representative initials this change. The ombudsman program can assist you if there are problems with this process.


The information contained in this web site applies only to GEORGIA, USA. It is intended only as INFORMATION and does not constitute legal ADVICE, nor does reading, downloading or otherwise using this site create an attorney-client relationship.  Anyone seeking specific legal advice should contact an attorney licensed in the appropriate state, and should never rely upon the information provided herein, or any other web site, for that matter.