How Should I go About Selecting a Nursing Home in the Jacksonville Area for Me or My Loved one?

Choosing the Right Nursing Home

When you or a loved one is in need of nursing home care, the decision about which nursing home to choose can be daunting. Jacksonville, Duval County, has 43 nursing homes alone. St. Johns County / St. Augustine has another 8, Clay County – Orange Park has 10 and Nassau County has 2.

It is important to know that not all nursing homes are alike. Some provide much better care than others.

Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare System

As a first resource, we recommend that Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website be reviewed (ww.medicare.gove/nursinghomecompare/search.html). This site provides a five star ranking system for every nursing home in the country that accepts Medicare or Medicaid for payment.

Medicare uses state inspections, resident assessments and hospital readmission rates to rank each nursing home with an overall score in five separate categories: health inspections; fire safety inspections; staffing; quality of resident care; and penalties.

We have found these ratings to have some reliability. For example, our lawyers have prosecuted numerous neglect claims against the majority of Jacksonville’s one star facilities, but we have never brought a claim against one of Jacksonville’s five star nursing homes.

Choose a Location that is Convenient for Family and Friends to Visit

It is very important that the location of the nursing home be convenient for family members to visit. It is a fact in the nursing home industry that residents who have frequent visitors receive better care.

Visit the Nursing Home – Meet With Staff

Ask to meet with the Director of Nursing, the Assistant Director of Nursing and the Administrator before making a decision. If at least two of the three will not meet with you, go elsewhere. During the meeting, be prepared to discuss the particular needs you may have and make sure the nursing home is experienced in the types of care you require.

During your visit to the nursing home, take notice of the staff, the residents and the facility itself. Are the staff members friendly or do they seem stressed and overworked? Are residents being attended to? Are there numerous call lights activated at the same time?

Also pay attention to whether the facility looks and smells clean. If the facility looks run down, it can be a serious sign that the owners may be placing profitability above resident needs.

We recommend you purposefully arrange your visit for around noon. In this manner, you can view the dining area and get a feel for the palatability of the food. The quality and taste of the food prepared at nursing homes can vary significantly.

Finally, ask who your attending physician will be. While your own doctor is allowed to see you in the nursing home, in most circumstances, the nursing home will establish an attending physician for you. Do some research to make sure that you are comfortable with that doctor’s credentials and patient reviews. We also recommend you arrange a meeting with him or her before you make your decision.

Make a Second Visit to the Nursing Home – Unannounced

We recommend you visit the nursing home a second time and that you do so unannounced. Ask to be able to walk to the common areas, including the dining hall. A good time to do this is around 7:00 p.m. as most nursing homes switch from the day to night time shift at that time. In doing so, you can get a feel for how staff interact with each other and whether the nursing home runs smoothly.

Review Survey Results

The State of Florida conducts periodic surveys of every nursing home. The survey results, including any deficiencies, are available here. The surveys cover a broad array of topics ranging from specific issues involving resident care to building requirements such as fire sprinkler systems. By reviewing the surveys you can glean a very general understanding of the issues at the nursing home and how responsive it is to citations by the state.


Doing your homework before choosing a nursing home can prove invaluable to health and happiness. No matter which nursing home you choose, it is paramount to stay involved in your care or in the care of a loved one. If you would like our personal input as part of your decision making process, feel free to contact our Jacksonville nursing home abuse attorneys at (904) 632-0077.

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