So here you are: a caregiver now charged not with the daily tasks of caregiving but of placing your loved one in an assisted living facility. This comes with a host of obstacles: how will you pay for it? Will your loved one enjoy living there? Is there enough medical care in this facility to properly handle your loved one’s healthcare needs? Will your loved one be safe when you are not there?
All of these questions—and many more—run through the heads of those who are given this responsibility. Each one connects to a major issue when choosing an assisted living facility. Beyond just finding out if the facility is a general fit—is there a private bathroom, can a married couple share a space, is the nutrition customizable for diabetes or high blood pressure, are pets allowed, etc.—there are vital questions to ask the staff of an assisted living facility while on the tour that will dramatically impact your loved one’s health and safety.
If you are searching for an assisted living facility for your loved one, here are 17 questions that will help you find the right fit for you and your loved one’s needs. Some will be of more importance to you than others; they are not listed in any order of priority. They are suggested guideliness to probe more deeply into your loved one’s needs and the facility’s capacity to fulfill them.
- Where is the nearest hospital, and how quickly can my loved one be admitted there in case of emergency? What is your policy concerning medical emergencies?
- What kinds of services are available, as far as levels of care? Does the price change if the level of care changes?
- How many trained medical professionals, such as nurses, are on staff, and what are their duties in regard to patients?
- Are bathing and grooming services available?
- What complaints, if any, have been formally lodged against the facility? How can I or my loved one lodge a complaint if I feel my loved one may be experiencing abuse and neglect?
The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) in collaboration with the Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled (CIAD) suggests this question:
- Who draws up the Resident Service Plan? How involved is the resident and family in this process?
- How can residents pay for their care?
Argentum, formerly the Assisted Living Federation of America, suggests the following question:
- Who oversees the quality and standards here? How long have they been in this field, and what certifications/education do they have?
- What kinds of social events are hosted, and do many residents attend? Is there transportation to other events offered here, such as religious services or community events?
- What are visiting hours? Are there any restrictions?
- How frequently is the facility cleaned, and by whom/how?
- What is the residency agreement? (Get copies of this!) If this changes, how can I ensure we get updates?
- How do you keep personal property, such as jewelry or clothing, safe?
- Who handles and distributes medication? What training and education do they have?
- Can my loved one have medical professionals come to visit them here, such as a physical therapist? If not, can they get transportation through this facility to a doctor’s appointment?
- How is the staff trained? What education is required in order to work here?
- Where may I find the state inspection report, for my review?
These questions are in addition to obvious concerns, such as is the facility clean and aesthetically pleasing? Is it capable of handling wheelchairs, as the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates? They may also lead to other, more detailed and specific questions. For example, the answer to question 9 might lead you to ask whether the available social events appeal to your loved one.
The above questions will also help you find out what needs you will have to meet and how your schedule will be impacted (transportation needs or visiting hours are more vital than they may, at first, appear) and what the facility fulfills. They should also help you grasp whether the facility is well-prepared to care for your loved one as he or she continues to age.
Making a longer and more detailed checklist of questions is always important. You should make visits to many different facilities in order to gather your options appropriately. Visit potential facilities more than once and at different times of the day. Knowledge is power when it comes to making such an important choice in the care of your loved one.
AARP. Assisted Living: What to Ask. Available at http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/checklists/checklist_assistedLiving.html. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled (CIAD) and Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York (NHCC). Thinking of Moving to an Assisted Living Residence? The Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC). Available at http://www.ltccc.org/news/documents/alguidepotresfinal.pdf. Retireved February 8, 2016.
Argentum, formerly the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community. Available at http://www.alfa.org/images/alfa/pdfs/getfile.cfm_product_id=94&file=alfachecklist.pdf. Retrieved February 8, 2016.