Is a loved one in a nursing home? Questions you should ask

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, you may be concerned about their safety amid the COVIC-19 pandemic.

AARP has consulted with leading nursing home experts to offer the following key questions to ask of nursing homes:

  1. Has anyone in the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19?

This includes residents as well as staff or other vendors who may have been in the nursing home.

  1. What is the nursing home doing to prevent infections?

How are nursing home staff being screened for COVID-19, especially when they leave and re-enter the home?

What precautions are in place for residents who are not in private rooms?

  1. Does nursing home staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE)—like masks, face shields, gowns, gloves—that they need to stay safe, and keep their patients safe?

Have nursing home staff been given specific training on how to use this personal protective equipment?

If no, what is the plan to obtain personal protective equipment?

  1. What is the nursing home doing to help residents stay connected with their families or other loved ones during this time?

Does the nursing home help residents call their loved ones by phone or video call?Will the nursing home set up a regular schedule for you to speak with your loved one?

  1. What is the plan for the nursing home to communicate important information to both residents and families on a regular basis?

Will the nursing home be contacting you by phone or email, and when?

  1. Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides, and other workers?

    What is the plan to make sure the needs of nursing home residents are met—like bathing, feeding, medication management, social engagement—if the nursing home has staffing shortages?

Note: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued an emergency order to protect residents and staff at Maryland nursing home facilities, and bolster the state’s mitigation and suppression efforts amid outbreaks of COVID-19. 

Effective immediately, new directives will require facilities to direct all staff who interact with residents to wear personal protective equipment, create separate observation and isolation areas for residents, and expedite all testing through the Maryland State Public Health Laboratory. 

If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a spouse, parent, or other loved one who lives in a nursing home, contact your local Department of Human Services (DHS) office online or call 1-800-332-6347; or call MAC, Inc., the Area Agency on Aging, at 410-742-0505, and ask for the Ombudsman.

Additional resources from AARP are available online at

Information provided by the AARP