A Nursing Care Facility (NCF) is a state licensed private-care facility that provides 24-hour skilled hospital care for residents who do not require hospitalization but cannot be cared for at home. Also called Long Term Care Facilities the majority of nursing homes are staffed by caring trained persons who provide an excellent level of service for their residents.

It pays to shop around when selecting a nursing care facility. Seniors should consult with a trusted doctor or health care practitioner for recommendations of nearby facilities. Plan on visiting at least four or five area facilities and make an appointment with the administrator or director of nursing. Check to make sure that information provided is consistent with information gathered during the facility tour. Discrepancies between provided information and your own observations indicate possible problems later on. A nursing care facility should have clean floors and a clean smell. Facilities with dirty floors and a sour smell do not put a high priority on cleanliness and should not be considered.

Ask to see the compliance survey report prepared by the State of Texas on the considered facility. The report will list deficiencies found in resident care during routine inspections and the facility’s effort to correct the problem. Under Texas law nursing homes must make this and other survey compliance reports available upon request as well as provide an accessible and well-lit place for review.

Another option available is to call the Texas Department of Human Services at 800-458-9858. While state law prohibits agency employees from recommending one facility over another they can answer the following TDHS recommended questions about any such facility:

• Have there been any proposed license terminations in the past two years?

• How many complaints have been filed in the past year?

• How many complaints in the past year have been found to be valid?

• How many deficiencies have been cited in the past two years?

• How many “quality of care” violations have been cited in the past two years?

• When did TDHS last visit the facility and what was the purpose of the visit?

• Has the owner of this facility had other facilities recommended for license termination?

The answers to these questions combined with observations and impressions made during facility tours and staff interviews will ease the task of selecting the right nursing care facility.