When walking into an assisted living community for the first time, you may be overwhelmed. It can be a mix of emotions and concerns. By staying focused and knowing what to look for, your decision-making process may be easier and more helpful to find the perfect fit for your loved one.
From the minute that you drive into the community from the parking lot to the reception desk, how tidy is the community? Are the common areas, dining room, and hallways free of clutter and neat? How does the community smell? Are the outdoor areas well-maintained? Are the private rooms and bathrooms clean? How often does housekeeping clean the private apartments? How is laundry handled? By paying attention to these details, you can see the pride that the community takes in their home and ultimately in the comfort of their residents.
Residents’ Hygiene and Grooming
How are the residents groomed? Are they dressed and wearing shoes when in the common areas? Is their hair combed? Are they dressed appropriately for the time of day and for the season? Do keep in mind that seniors typically feel colder and often times will wear a sweater or jacket, even if that may be too warm for you.
Does the community schedule a daily list of activities that are engaging? Are programs scheduled in the evening and on weekends? Can you see an activity during your tour? Does the community offer outing outside of the community like shopping, long drives, or to events? Do the activities accommodate the physical or cognitive limitations of your loved one? Are the residents engaged with the staff? With each other? Socialization is very important to the wellbeing of seniors.
Security and Safety
Are there handrails in the hallways? Sprinkler system throughout the community? Does the community have a receptionist greeting visitors at the door? Do visitors sign in and out? Are grab bars in the bathrooms and seats in the showers? Is there an emergency call system? Are the memory care apartments and outdoor areas secured from wandering?
Share a Meal
Schedule your tour during a meal. Is the food appetizing to taste and visually appealing? Is there enough variety in the choices? Do they accommodate special dietary needs? Can you meet the chef? Three meals, drinks, and snacks throughout the day are vital to your loved one’s continued strength and balanced nutrition.
Talk to Staff, Residents, and Families
What is the ratio of staff to residents? Observe the interaction between residents and staff. Do you find it warm and caring? Are they helpful and attentive? Introduce yourself to residents and other family members. Ask how long has their loved one lived there? Is there anything that they would change or improve? Family members of current residents can offer honest insight.
Are there monthly fees? Are there additional charges that you may expect? What happens when your loved one needs more care? Under what conditions would your loved one have to move? Get a detailed breakdown of what is included and what are extra fees. Will your loved one have an assessment before moving in? This is your opportunity to make sure you understand the costs and ask enough questions to clarify their billing process and policies.
After your initial visit, stop by unannounced. This is a great opportunity to again view the cleanliness of the community, the activity level of the residents, and perhaps meet more family members. If this is the new home for your loved one, you want to be confident that your initial tour is an accurate reflection of the community on a daily basis.