Live Life On Your Own Terms ®

choose the right al optWhat happens if our three-part needs assessment – of physical, psychosocial and mental status – shows that it’s time to move to an assisted living facility?

Then, the question is, which one? And it’s a tough one. As a former executive director of assisted living communities, I know just how confusing, how complex, how segmented, and how seemingly endless the array of senior care assisted living options can be.

Based on this experience in both holistic senior care and the assisted living industry, and knowing your specific needs, we can give you and your family a neutral analysis of your options, complete with each one’s advantages and drawbacks.

But the decision itself is yours, and it needs to be based on your own first-hand observations. Here are some tips for evaluating each option.


What to look for

It’s a good idea to visit an assisted care facility you’re considering twice – once for a scheduled tour and later for a surprise visit.

On the day your tour is scheduled, get there 10 minutes early. Look around and get an overall feel for the place. On the tour itself, try to chat with residents and families. Ask how they feel about the home and if they’d recommend it. At the end of the tour, ask to see the community’s most recent staff survey.

After the tour, if you’re still seriously interested in the home, come back for a surprise visit, preferably during a meal or scheduled activity. Do things look the same as on the tour? Talk to residents and family members, without a staff member there, to find out how they like the home.

What to ask

Once you have an overall idea of the place, ask questions to drill down to the specifics:

  • Level of service – Do your services include social work? Therapy? Pharmacy?
  • Costs ­– Do you have a buy-in fee? If so, how much? Do you charge extra for services such as medication management?
  • How do you welcome newcomers? Is there a welcoming committee? Does it include residents as well as staff? Is there a “buddy system” to help newcomers meet new people, adjust well, etc.?
  • How do you get to know newcomers? Do you have a formal questionnaire? Do you talk with newcomers and their families about their preferences and interests? How do you help the rest of the staff get to know them?
  • How do you develop a resident’s service plan? What input do residents have?
  • How consistent are caregiver assignments?
  • Do residents choose their own sleep and wakeup times? And is breakfast available throughout the morning?
  • If residents need bathing assistance, how and when do they get it? Do you accommodate their personal bathing schedule?
  • What kind of meal service do you have? Is it restaurant, buffet, family style, or a choice of all three? How many menu choices are there for each meal? What input do residents have into meal planning? Do you have proper utensils for people with eating difficulty? Can individual residents get a snack 24 hours a day?
  • What kind of activities do you have? What’s on the monthly schedule? Do your activities include intellectual stimulation? Physical engagement? New learning? Conversation? Spirituality? Are they off-site as well as on-site? What if residents want activities that aren’t on the schedule?
  • How do you maintain social activity? What opportunities are there for residents to get together with each other? With staff? To maintain ties with the outside community? Are family members and friends welcome at meals, celebrations and events?
  • What input do residents have on how things are done? And how often?
  • How much access do family members have? Can they visit anytime? Take part in activities? Talk to staff members?
  • How do you measure resident and family satisfaction? With group meetings? With annual surveys? If the latter, ask to see the most recent survey form and, if possible, the results.

To learn more about assisted living, or anything else about holistic senior care, please click here for a free 30-minute consultation.

It’s a great way to make the difference between an assisted living facility and an assisted living home.