Consumer Guide to Health Care - Finding and Choosing a Nursing Home

What is a Nursing Home?

A Nursing Home is a facility that provides 24-hour nursing services, including room and board to five or more unrelated persons. Usually individuals living in a nursing home require access to 24-hour nursing services due to their physical or mental condition. A Swing Bed Hospital is a hospital that has beds that are able to provide Nursing Home care.

Regulation Information

Nursing homes are regulated under Chapter DHS 132, Wisconsin Administrative Code and under the federal regulations at 42 Code of Federal Regulations 483 Subpart B.

Learn more about the Department's role in regulating Nursing Homes.

Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities Survey Guide (PDF)

Looking for a Nursing Home?

Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC): ADRCs provide information on broad range of programs and services, help people understand the various long term care options available to them, help people apply for programs and benefits, and serve as the access point for publicly-funded long term care. These services can be provided at the ADRC, via telephone, or through a home visit, whichever is more convenient to the individual seeking help.

County-By-County Directories of Wisconsin Residential Care Providers: Locate a health or residential care provider in a specific county.

Provider Search:  Locate a health or residential care provider and obtain compliance history information.

Statewide Nursing Home Directories

Compliance Information

Provider Search: Locate a health or residential care provider and obtain compliance history information.

Consumer Information Reports: The report provides information to aid residents or prospective residents in assessing the quality of care provided by a facility.  Information includes facility specific federal violations and staffing information.

Search a federal nursing home database:  The Nursing Home Compare database, from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provides information about nursing homes and their compliance with Medicare and Medicaid regulations and rates each nursing home on a scale of one to five stars.

Complaints Regarding Wisconsin Health and Residential Care Providers

The Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance is responsible for assuring the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Wisconsin.  If any individual believes that a caregiver, agency, or Department regulated facility has violated State or Federal laws pertaining to regulated entities, that individual has the right to file a complaint.

Client Rights

Wisconsin Client Rights: Anyone who is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse in the state of Wisconsin has specific rights under Wisconsin Statute 51 (State Alcohol, Drug Abuse, Developmental Disability and Mental Health Act) subsections 51.61 and 51.30.

Advance Directives: An advance directive describes, in writing, your choices about the treatments you want or do not want or about how health care decisions should be made for you if you become incapacitated and cannot express your wishes.

Resources for Choosing a Nursing Home

The Department of Health Services does not refer residents for placement in nursing homes and does not provide guidance for selecting nursing homes, besides providing compliance history information.  However, there are state and national resources that provide guidance for selecting nursing homes. 

More help

Choosing Wisconsin Residential Care Options.

Caregiver Center, from the Alzheimer's Association, provides online resources and a telephone helpline that can help you determine your care needs and care options.

Thinking of Moving to an Assisted Living Residence? (PDF) This guide from the Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled and the Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York State provides those thinking of moving to an assisted living residence with questions to ask and things to consider.

Last Revised: September 14, 2017