Tips for Choosing Assisted Living
Written by Jeff Meyer on August 9, 2015
Assisted living is just that – assisted. It is a choice made by families who know they cannot provide higher quality of care for a loved one, and so they help them to transition into a new home in which they are still somewhat independent and yet have professional and skilled help on hand if needed.
With that established, though, it can still be tough to know just what assisted living facility is the ideal choice for your family member or loved one. Elder law attorney, Kathryn Stebner was recently quoted in an article on the subject of assisted living options, and she said that one of the keys is to do your research and to visit the different facilities.
She also said to not just visit once, but several times, and even unannounced. This lets you get the most accurate real-time picture of the facility, the atmosphere, the staff and more. Ask yourself how easy it is to walk in, what does the place smell like, and are there patients tucked into corners seemingly ignored? While these may seem obvious, they are also things you might not discover if your visit was planned.
Other tips offered included:
Use the Internet to be certain that any facility has the proper licensing. This can be done through the handy online resources of A Place for Mom, which provides access to state records on all assisted living communities. You can also check the state Department of Health to run a comparison of the available properties, and Medicare.gov also has an easy to use search engine.
Once you have narrowed down the choices, it is time to dig in and ask about the staff. After all, these are the people who will be providing the care for your loved one, and you will want to be sure that it is qualified, caring, and adequate.
- Begin by asking about ratios of staff to residents.
- Then, ask if staff is appropriately trained in issues such as fall prevention.
- Next, find out about the activities that are made available daily, and if there are staff available for those with greater or higher needs.
- Is “acuity” a staffing consideration? I.E., does the facility staff based on the needs of patients or only on numbers of residents?
- How are changes in a resident documented by the staff? Is it just nurses or those who interact directly?
With staffing questions tackled, you can ask about more specific items such as RNs…do they have medical people on site at all times?
You can also ask about the amount spent on food per patient, per day. Small amounts are not something to boast of, and if your loved one is receiving just a few dollars of food per day, it is a very serious warning sign.
What about security? Does the assisted living facility have appropriate locks for anyone with dementia? Is there strong security on the premises to prevent anyone from breaking in?
Finally, what is the business style of the facility? Is it a large, corporate owned entity that is part of a vast network of nursing homes or assisted living facilities? If so, you may find that decision-making is not based on local needs. Corporate offices can sometimes make changes that seem thoughtless to the real people they affect, and it could be a good reason to seek out an independent or locally owned facility instead.
There are many questions to consider when exploring an assisted living facility, and these are some of the most important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and demand clear answers, it is your loved one’s quality of life that is most important. Should you discover a loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse in assisted living, don’t hesitate to contact the authorities and a qualified attorney.
HanfordSentinel.com. Things to look for with… http://hanfordsentinel.com/features/things-to-look-for-with-assisted-living-places/article_d20dddd9-b688-5080-8a36-c705eea5b295.html
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