Once you’ve decided to explore the option of assisted living, you’ll want to take the time to learn about and visit assisted living communities near you. By visiting the premises and meeting the staff and facility members, you will get a fisthand look at what a facility has to offer.
It’s important to locate a facility that feels right to you and your family. During your visit, there are questions you should ask yourself and those who live and work there. This checklist will help you know what to look for so you can make the most informed decision.
- The environment should feel welcoming and inviting: This is where your loved one will spend most of their time. When you walk around the facility, it should feel like somewhere you’d want to live yourself—somewhere you could come and visit often. The staff should be friendly and inviting.
- The décor is attractive and has a home-like feel: The community should feel as nice as someone’s home.
- The space is accessible: The flor plan should not be a cause for concern. All areas should be equally accessible to individuals with walkers, canes and wheelchairs. no area should seem crowded; all spaces should be open, clear, and easy to move around in.
- There is an outdoor area: A breath of fresh air has a powerful health effect on people of all ages. An assisted living community should have a landscaped courtyard or garden where residents can walk, sit, water flwers or just be outside.
- Staff give residents individual attention: There is no substitute for this. You should see staff interacting with individuals—not just groups—and calling residents by name. Staff should have time to hold conversations with residents, ask questions, or stop and help them.
- Therapy specialists are available: The facility should have a relationship with therapists who specialize in different areas, potentially including speech therapists, physical/ occupational therapists and dementia/memory specialists.
- Staff are open and helpful to families: Staff aren’t there only for residents—they are also there for you. Staff should be able to answer your questions, be proactive in keeping you informed, and prepare you for the transition. In particular, they should prep you for interacting with your relative once they’re moved in.
- Residents are social with one another: It’s a good sign when residents are chatting with each other. Ideally, they should seem interested and engaged in the activities.
- Visits with loved ones are welcomed: Visits are a source of joy for residents. Staff should never view them as a chore. notice whether staff seem happy to see you when you arrive, and whether it feels like dropping in is encouraged.
- Residents have a high degree of freedom: Some residents may have entered a hospice period or prefer more solitude, but the majority of residents should be moving around the community and choosing their own activities. Look for residents strolling the premises and visiting with one another.
- Food is available whenever residents want it: While every community has a meal schedule, it shouldn’t be written in stone. Some residents may want a midnight snack or get hungry earlier or later than others. food should always be available.
- Residents appear clean, well-groomed and content: This is a little thing to look for but it indicates a high level of professionalism and attention from staff. Since staff help groom, bathe and dress many of the residents, they should appear clean and comfortable. It’s a good sign when everyone seems comfortable and presentable.
- Art and music: Looking at paintings and photographs or listening to old music can be powerful ways to reawaken memories. Staff should be familiar with these tools and know how to use them. Ask staff to explain their activities and use of these elements.
- Transparency: Every assisted living facility should display its state license and bill of patient rights. Ask whether they can show you their past inspection reports (including the most recent), what their screening procedure is for staff, and whether they train staff on elder abuse and neglect. most importantly, look for a clear schedule of fees that discloses all costs up-front. Every community should let you review a resident agreement well in advance of signing it.
- Clear medication policies: It should be abundantly clear who is responsible for administering medication and how it is coordinated. Ask how medication is stored and whether residents can administer their own medications.
- Access to outside specialists: You should be able to bring in outside medical specialists and staff should facilitate this, so ask about their policy on third-party practitioners. It’s important to know how they coordinate visits, and whether the patient’s care plan will reflct recommendations from these specialists.
- Reasonable, scalable fees: costs for assisted living vary widely, but many families are surprised by how accessible they can be. rates generally include the cost of living plus cost associated with the resident’s individualized care services that are provided by a professional caregiver. rates should be transparent and scale based on what services are or aren’t needed. for instance, a resident who does not need assistance with dressing should not be charged for the service. The resident’s care plan associated cost should be based on specific needs.