Updated Nursing Home Visit Checklist Can Help Prevent Neglect & Abuse

If your family is planning a tour of an Illinois nursing home facility, or you have a loved one who is currently a nursing home resident, and you are checking-in, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released an updated checklist to help identify any care concerns or suspicions of neglect and abuse of residents. Here are some key data points to consider discussing with administrators and care staff during your next visit.

Facility Type

  • Is the nursing home Medicare certified?
  • Is the nursing home Medicaid certified?
  • Are the nursing home and current administrator licensed in my state?
  • Does the nursing home offer specialized services, like a special care unit for a resident with dementia or ventilator care?
  • What type of rehabilitation services are provided?
  • Is there an arbitration agreement requested to be signed?
  • Can I have a copy of the written resident policies?
  • Will the nursing home tell me in writing about their services, charges, and fees before I move my loved one into the home?

Resident Appearance

  • Are residents clean?
  • What type of clothing are residents wearing?
  • Do residents appear to be altered, confused, upset or hurt?
  • Are residents well groomed?
  • Are residents appropriately dressed for the season or time of day?

Nursing Home Living Spaces

  • Is the nursing home free from overwhelming unpleasant odors?
  • Does the nursing home appear clean and well kept?
  • Is the temperature in the nursing home comfortable for residents?
  • Does the nursing home have good lighting?
  • Are the noise levels in the dining room and other common areas comfortable?
  • Is smoking allowed?
  • Is the furniture sturdy, yet comfortable and attractive?

Menus & Food

  • Do residents have a choice of food items at each meal?
  • Can the nursing home provide for special dietary needs?
  • Are nutritious snacks available if you ask for them?
  • Does the staff help residents eat and drink at mealtimes if help is needed?


  • Does the relationship between staff and residents appear to be warm, polite, and respectful?
  • Do staff wear name tags?
  • Do staff knock on the door before entering a resident’s room?
  • Do staff refer to residents by name?
  • Does the nursing home offer a training and continuing education program for all staff?
  • Is there a licensed nursing staff 24 hours a day, including a Registered Nurse (RN) present at least 8 hours per day, 7 days a week?
  • How does the nursing home check to make sure they don’t hire staff members who have been found guilty of abuse, neglect or mistreatment of residents, or have a finding of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment of residents in the state nurse aid registry?
  • Do CNAs help plan the care of residents?
  • Is there a person on staff that will be assigned to meet my social service needs?
  • Will staff call my doctor for me if I have a medical need?
  • Has there been a turnover in administration staff, like the administrator or director of nurses, in the past year?
  • Does the nursing home post information about the number of nursing staff, including Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)?
  • Can I meet the social worker available?
  • Is my primary language spoken by staff that will work directly with me and fellow residents?

Residents’ Rooms

  • Can residents have personal belongings and furniture in their rooms?
  • Does each resident have storage space (closet and drawers) in his or her room?
  • Does each resident have a window in his or her bedroom?
  • Do residents have access to internet, a computer, a personal phone, and television?
  • Do residents have a choice of roommates?
  • Are there policies and procedures to protect residents’ possessions, including lockable cabinets and closets?

Hallway, Stairs, Lounges, & Bathrooms

  • Are exits clearly marked?
  • Are there quiet areas where residents can visit with friends and family?
  • Does the nursing home have smoke detectors and sprinklers?
  • Are all common areas, resident rooms, and doorways designed for wheelchairs?
  • Are handrails and grab bars appropriately placed in the hallways and bathrooms?


  • Can residents, including those who are unable to leave their rooms, choose to take part in a variety of activities?
  • Do residents help plan or choose activities that are available?
  • Does the nursing home have outdoor areas for resident use?
  • Does the nursing home have an active volunteer program?
  • Do I get to choose what time to get up, go to sleep, or bathe?
  • Can I have visitors at any time?
  • Will the nursing home let me see visitors who may come to visit at early or late hours?
  • Would I be able to leave the facility for a few hours or days if I choose to do so?
  • Are there procedures for leaving?
  • Does the nursing home offer the religious or cultural support I need?

Safety & Care

  • Can residents still see their personal doctors? Does the facility help arrange transportation for this purpose?
  • Does the nursing home have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?
  • Are care plan meetings held with residents and family members at times that are convenient and flexible whenever possible?
  • Does the nursing home’s inspection report show quality of care problems or other deficiencies?
  • Has the nursing home corrected all deficiencies (failure to meet one or more state or federal requirements) on its last state inspection report?
  • Does the nursing home have the most recent health and fire inspection reports for me to look at?

Use of Antipsychotic Drugs

  • Does the nursing home have specific policies and procedures related to the care of individuals with dementia? If so, does the policy include the use of non-medication-based approaches to care as a first attempt to respond to behavioral symptoms, which are often a means of communication, for residents living with dementia?
  • What percentage of resident’s who have a diagnosis of dementia are currently being prescribed an antipsychotic medication?
  • What’s the nursing home’s current rate of antipsychotic medication use?
  • Does the nursing home participate in any efforts related to reducing the use of antipsychotic medication in nursing homes?

This updated checklist was created with information provided by Nursing Home Compare at Medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare.

Report Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

If after a nursing home visit you fear a loved one may be a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the skilled legal team at Levin & Perconti to discuss what you witnessed. Call us today at (312) 332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys.

Also read: 71 Nursing Homes Cited For Poor Care In Illinois