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Nursing Home Patients and Families

​​​​​​Choosing a Nursing Home

Moving into a nursing home is a big life change. Use these steps to help you choose a nursing home for yourself or a family member:
  • Find nursing homes in your area.
  • Compare the quality of the nursing homes.
  • Review survey results.
  • Visit the nursing homes with your checklist.
  • Choose the nursing home that best meets your needs.
Do you have questions about choosing a nursing home or need a checklist for your visits? Review Your Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home or Other Long-Term Services and Supports.

In 2016, the Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force released recommendations for changing how nursing homes function and improving the quality of life for all residents. Read the task force report recommendations.

What is a Nursing Home Survey?

Nursing homes are inspected each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These surveys help to make sure that nursing homes are following state and federal regulations.

Surveys usually take several days, are unannounced and happen during the day or night. Survey teams:

  • examine how well the nursing home ensures that its residents feel “at home”
  • evaluate how well the nursing home provides care to its residents by meeting minimum regulatory standards
  • use tools to determine the quality of care and quality of life of nursing home residents

After a survey is completed, a written report is given to the nursing home. If problems are identified, the surveyors must decide how serious the problems are and the nursing home must submit a plan to correct the problems. Penalties may be given to the facility depending on the seriousness of the problems.

You can ask to see a copy of a survey report at any nursing home or you can view the survey reports on our website. You can also review sanctions given to facilities on our website.

How Do I File a Concern or Complaint?

If you have concerns regarding care being provided at a nursing home, the following steps should be taken to attempt to resolve the issue: 

  1.  Discuss the concerns with the Nursing Home Administrator or the Director of Nursing – These individuals cannot resolve issues if they are not aware of the concerns. 
  2. If not resolved with the facility contacts, contact the Long-Term Care​ Ombudsman office at 717-783-8975 or
  3. If these attempts do not resolve the concerns and the issues are regulatory, contact the Department of Health and lodge a complaint by one of the following ways:

Speak up, we're listening. To file a complaint:

  • call 1-800-254-5164
  • use the online complaint form
  • email
  • send mail to:
    Division of Nursing Care Facilities Director
    Pennsylvania Department of Health
    Division of Nursing Care Facilities
    625 Forster St., Room 526, Health and Welfare Building
    Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701
  • fax 717-772-2163

Callers to the hotline (1-800-254-5164) may speak directly with a Department of Health professional. If we are unable to take your call, please leave a voice message that includes the name of the facility, the specific issue related to care and services provided to residents/patients, and any details required for a thorough investigation to be completed.  Callers must leave their name and telephone number for staff to return the call. Identity will not be released to the facility by leaving contact information for a return call.

For complaints regarding a personal care home or assisted living facility, call 877-401-8835.

Where Can I Find Nursing Home Survey Reports and Sanctions?