Choosing A Nursing Home In Philadelphia

April 21, 2014

For most Pennsylvanians, protecting our elderly loved ones as they age is a top priority. Many of us turn to elder-care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities, to provide needed medical services and a compassionate, vigilant eye to our seniors.

Preventing Nursing Home Neglect In Pennsylvania

But lurking within many nursing homes lies elder mistreatment, nursing home abuse and neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, up to 10% of Americans over the age of 65 will be the victims of elder abuse and neglect within their lifetime. Obviously, nursing home neglect is a huge problem, in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation, one that tests the very morals of our society.

The best way to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect is to stop it before it starts. Last week, we discussed considering elder care facilities for the first time, and the common signs that a residential treatment center might be the right option for your elderly loved one. Today, we’d like to go one step further. This guide was developed to help you decide whether a nursing home is appropriate for your loved one, and how to identify the signs that a nursing home may also be the home of neglect and abuse.

Is A Nursing Home Right For My Loved One?

There are many reasons that an elder in Pennsylvania would choose to live in a nursing home, rather than an assisted living facility. Usually, residents in nursing homes have more serious medical problems than those in assisted living facilities. Nursing homes offer 24/7 medical services to their residents, while most assisted living facilities do not.

Your loved one may be sick, or recovering from an injury or surgery. Maybe they have a chronic health condition that makes staying at home an impossibility. These are all good reasons to begin looking into nursing homes.

Research Nursing Homes In Your Area

Reach out to friends and family that you trust and ask them for suggestions of nursing homes in your area. Their recent experience with a nursing home may prove valuable. In addition, your elderly loved one’s doctor may work in a local nursing home already. Breaks in essential care services can be detrimental to an elder in Pennsylvania’s health, so staying with a doctor that you trust may be a good idea.

To search your area for highly-rated nursing homes, try U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing Homes database.

Seek Out A Long Term Care Ombudsman

Ombudsmen, or public advocates, are a great resource to reach out to in your search for the right nursing home. Generally, ombudsman are elected by the government, but work fairly independently. Their main job is to represent the citizens of Pennsylvania by investigating complaints against various establishments.

Long term care ombudsmen work specifically to address complaints raised against nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other elder-care facilities Many of these complaints involve elder abuse and neglect, so running the names of a few nursing homes by an ombudsmen will likely dig up any violations of residents’ rights in the facility’s past.

To find an elder care ombudsman in your area, call 1-800-677-1116.

Visit Nursing Homes, Be Vigilant For The Signs Of Elder Abuse & Neglect

Before choosing a nursing home for your elderly loved one, take a trip to the facility and inspect it. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Is the lighting adequate, to prevent residents from colliding with obstacles? A cluttered floor can cause dangerous slip, trip, and fall accidents.
  • Do the facilities appear clean? Poor hygiene in nursing homes can help spread diseases and infection.

Read our FAQ to learn more about the Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect.

Ask Questions When You Visit A Nursing Home
No one knows more about a particular nursing home’s facilities and staff than the residents who live there. Before visiting, call the nursing home and make an appointment to meet with a staff member and any residents that may wish to speak with you.

Don’t be afraid to pose hard questions. If you meet with a staff member, bring up any violations an ombudsman may have found and ask the staff member to address these issues.

In speaking with a nursing home’s residents, be aware that many, even those who have experienced elder abuse or neglect, will not be forthcoming about their nursing home’s true conditions. But by asking pointed questions you should be able to answer some fundamental questions:

  • Do the nursing home’s residents seem happy?
  • Is it well-staffed? Are there an adequate number of staff members working at any one time?
  • Does the staff seem compassionate, helpful, and attentive?

The US Government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have put together an excellent resource, “Your Guide To Choosing A Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Care,” to help you with this important decision.

Be Aware Of A Nursing Home Resident’s Rights

Are nursing home residents afforded the same rights as other citizens? What about the right to privacy and the right to residency? Moving into a nursing home is an unprecedented change for most elderly Pennsylvanians. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rights of nursing home residents:


Nursing home residents retain the right to vote, to practice their chosen religion freely, and to freely associate with whoever they want. The rights that apply to every citizen of the US, apply to the residents of nursing homes, too.


According to the National Long Term Care Ombudsman Center, “residents of nursing homes are honored guests and have the right to be so treated.”


If they so choose, a nursing home’s residents have “the right to have their medical and personal records treated in confidence, and the right to private, uncensored communication.”

Private Property

Residents of a nursing home resident have every right to possess personal property and handle personal finances themselves.


No nursing home can discriminate against a resident and deny them equal access to medical treatment or other services.


No nursing home is allowed to discharge a resident “without timely and proper notification to both the resident and the family or guardian.” Residents have the right to live in the facility unless they violate regulations that are publicly-available.


Residents of nursing homes in America are protected from mental and physical abuse and neglect.

Your Most Important Right: A Nursing Home Neglect And Abuse Lawyer In Philadelphia

We trust nursing professionals with so much, the well-being of our loved ones. And while it’s tragic to consider, nursing home abuse must be confronted. If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or group homecontact PA Nursing Home Lawyers today.

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Haberman Law is dedicated to representing the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and neglect.

Many of us turn to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and group homes to provide care for our elderly loved ones.

If you suspect that a loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or group home, contact us.

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© PA Nursing Home Lawyers By Len Haberman, Esq. All Rights Reserved