Your elderly mother has been getting frailer and more forgetful lately. You know it’s not safe for her to continue living by herself, but you also know you don’t have the capacity to care for her in your home.

The decision to move your parent into a nursing home can be painful under any circumstances. But with all of the news stories lately of nursing home neglect, the idea of putting your parent in a stranger’s care is even more stressful.

While you can’t guarantee the moral character of everyone who works in a nursing home, there are some things you can look for to help ensure your loved one ends up in good hands.

Look for the personal touch

A nursing home should feel like just that—a home. Everyone who works there should treat their residents as friends, not as strangers. One indication of a community environment is name recognition. All of the staff should know each resident by name—and address them personally. This is a sign of a compassionate living environment.

Observe communication

The manner in which nursing home staff communicate can be telling. Do they speak mainly to each other—ignoring the residents? Do they disengage from everyone—focusing only on their work? Or do they engage with the residents—making eye contact and speaking in a clear, friendly manner? These signs can be telling of the type of care your parent could expect to receive.

Monitor responsiveness

If your parent falls in the bathroom and needs help getting up, you want to know that someone will be there quickly. Ask whether each room is equipped with an emergency alarm they can activate, and what the average response time is. In addition, noticing the responsiveness of staff in other areas can give you insight into how the nursing home operates. For example, you can keep track of how long it takes for a staff member in the dining room to respond to a resident who needs help.

Pay attention to management

In a nursing home environment, it will be the caregivers and nurses who care for your loved one. However, it’s important to look for a noticeable managerial presence as well. A lack of administrative oversight can result in sub-standard care.

Negligent care in your parent’s nursing home is a painful possibility to consider. But by knowing what to look for when you choose a nursing home, you can maximize the chances of a positive experience for your parent.