All great ideas! Please, please, please follow through!
In addition, be sure to pay particular attention to the facility up-keep and cleanliness as well. Odor? Check-out the soap dispensers..do they work? What does the linen look like? Does the toilet leak? Is the trash overflowing? Are the walls chipped and marked? Is the paint old and dirty? Are the walls clean? How about the floors? Is there enough room for your parents and their things...w/c, walker, cane, TV, chair...in a resident room. Look at the water pitchers. Are they clean? Is the water cool? Don't be afraid to snoop, ask questions, come unannounced at anytime.
Do you see friendly, family type interactions between residents and staff? Are residents and staff clean and neat? What are the staffing ratios? (not just on paper, but, on actual timeclock) Is the atmosphere rushed and chaotic or do you observe unhurried, pleasant conversation between residents and staff? Anyone smiling?...believe it or not this may be an indicator of the facility tone.
Observe the care flow during an evening's treatment and med pass. Are there enough staff members to attend to everyone properly (in your own determination) during this time?
Check out the food...important as well! Is it adaquate? Is it nutritious? Is it enough? What's that food served on? Paper plates 24/7? Old plastic glasses that look like a garage sale find? How are meals served? Family style, buffet, or dipped-up by the kitchen staff with a tiny icecream scoop? What's on the menu for the month? Who serves....Nursing or kitchen/dining staff? Inquire about snacks.
Make it a point to visit ALL the units in the Nursing Home, not just the one your parents would be assigned to. Do your own assessment on each one. So many facilities will put the "pretty", well maintained units in the areas that get the most public traffic. YOU WANT TO SEE THEM ALL!
Look, listen, learn, and research. Trust your "gut" instincts.
There ARE good Nursing Homes out there. It's up to you to find one.
Rest assured there are some really nasty ones out there, too.
Good luck to you as you search.
ABOUT COSTS: you'll have to be wise to catch all the costs. When I was looking for my Mom a few yrs. ago I found the costs to vary a few thousand dollars a month. What I actually discovered is how they list these costs. Some will be all inclusive of services and supplies. Others will give a base rate and then an ancillary list of costs should more be needed such as: use of a w/c (yep, if it's only for a sit outside once a month), a box of kleenex, a bottle of lotion, resident bathing, laundry, a trip to the Dr.'s office....etc.
Again, good luck to you!