When you are looking for the next home for your loved ones, you want to be certain that you get it right. When those people are elderly loved ones who need an assisted living facility, the pressure to get it right is incredibly important. An assisted living facility is more than a place to live, it’s a place that will take care of your loved ones.
Most people do not have much experience looking for the perfect assisted living facility for their loved ones. The lack of experience means that most people do not know what to look for and instead rely on the representative giving the tour. Those tour guides know what to show and what not to show, but honestly, when you are looking for a place for your loved ones, you want to see it all so you can find out more before you sign the papers.
So, what do you really need to look for in an assisted living facility?
#1: Safety and security concerns
One of the biggest concerns for family members is security and safety. When it comes time to find an assisted living facility, your loved one needs special care and you need to know he or she is safe at all times. Check that the bathrooms have grab bars and pull cords that call for help. There are a few other questions you should ask:
- How many staff members are available to residents during the day and night?
- How is medication managed?
- How are guests vetted?
- How do residents get help if they are in their private rooms?
- How much assistance do residents get?
- How does the facility plan to address emergency situations (think whether or active shooters)?
#2: Personal care assistance
When adults are placed in assisted living facilities, they have struggles caring for themselves. The limitations could involve basic housekeeping and could extend to personal care. Because tour guides usually show off the best parts of the facility, they usually do not show staff members providing personal care assistance. But, if your loved one needs help bathing or toileting, you should ask how that is accomplished daily.
You should be able to tell if the residents are properly cared for by how they look and smell. Since many elderly adults need help getting dress, take a look at the outfits they are wearing. Do they match? Are their shoes on? Women love to get their hair done, so check to see what women’s hair looks like. Notice if men have their hair cut, too. This is an area where you should be able to see if the residents are properly cared for, but there are details that you might overlook.
#3: Cleanliness of the facility
The residents aren’t the only thing that should be clean. The facility itself should also be neat and clean. You can check this out by looking in the nooks and crannies. Is there dust on the bookcases and window sills? Are there piles of laundry in residents’ rooms? How does the facility smell? It is important to know how often residents’ rooms are cleaned and what exactly is done during a cleaning. The tour guide should be able to tell you what the cleaning schedule is and what happens if a room needs an emergency cleaning.
#4: Visit during active times
The best time to visit is when people are busy. Pick a time when an activity is happening and visit when people are eating. Take note of the organization of the activity and of meal time. When you visit at meal times, take a look at the options and how food is served. Also look at what happens at the end of the meals, especially how space is cleaned. It is also important to notice if people wash their hands before and after they eat, especially since preventing disease is important in enclosed spaces like assisted living facilities.
During meal times and activity times, notice how people are interacting with each other. Are people happy? Are the activities things that your loved one would enjoy? How is are the staff members interacting with the residents? Does the facility have religious activities?
#5: What’s happening outside
It’s important for people to spend time outside. When you talk to the tour guide, ask about outdoor activities and take time to see the outdoor space. Hopefully, there are places to sit and safe places to walk and appreciate nature. Even if the residential facility is in a major city, there should still be some places for elderly residents to safely spend time outside. It is important that the outdoor areas are maintained, so chairs, tables, light fixtures, and sidewalk areas are safe.
#6: Ask for feedback
Before you close out your tour, it is important that you get some feedback from residents and from their loved ones. The tour guide should be able to give you names and contact information for some of the families who have loved ones at the facility. Keep in mind that those people have offered or have been asked to talk to prospective families, so they will say good things about the facility. You might not get the whole story from them. If you do decide to talk to them, ask them about the other facilities they toured and what made this one the one they chose.
#7: Trust your feelings
There is a good chance that you will know whether or not the facility is a good fit for your loved one before you leave. There will be red flags that will keep you from signing up. And, if there aren’t any red flags, then you might have found the perfect place for your elderly relative. If you feel comfortable there and your loved one does, too, then it might it. However, don’t go with the very first place you tour, because you might miss an even better spot. Assisted living facilities often have waiting lists, so if you do like it and it’s full, you might want to get on the list as quickly as possible.