Touring a Community
Note: Aegis Living's procedures for community tours and new resident move-ins has changed during COVID-19. For more information, click here.
Assisted Living Community Tour Checklist
Every family wants their parent or loved one to be able to live happily on their own. But this is not always the case. If your family has reached the point where your parent can no longer live independently, it is time to research your options for their care. Depending on their current care needs and what you think they will need in the future, a good choice for many families is an assisted living or memory care community. There are a few different types of senior living options that you will want to understand. However, assisted living is a good choice when personal assistance is needed for their health and safety. As you start to research your options, we can assist with helping you determine what is most important in an assisted living community.
To begin, we suggest that you schedule an assisted living tour. If interested in a community, pop-in for a second visit to make sure your expectations are still met when your visit is unplanned. We also suggest that you tour at various times of the day. You want to ensure that your parent or loved one will be mentally stimulated and physically active throughout the day. And you will want to see the interactions between residents and a variety of care staff.
What to Look for in an Assisted Living Community
This tour checklist will help you know what to look for and what to ask during your tour of a community.
Cleanliness. Don’t overlook the tidiness of a community. Pride in their community signals that the community will be kept clean and sanitized for the health of your family member. A tidy home and thoughtful details make for a better living environment and a place that you want to visit.
- How tidy is the community from the minute that you drive in from the parking lot to the reception desk?
- Are the common areas, dining room, and hallways free of clutter and neat?
- How does the community smell?
- Are outdoor areas well-maintained?
- Are private rooms and bathrooms clean and sanitary?
- How often does housekeeping clean apartments?
- How is laundry handled?
Residents’ Hygiene and Grooming. Grooming isn’t about fashion; it is about care. You want your parent or loved one active, up in the morning, ready for the day, and engaged in activities. Getting dressed and groomed is an important activity in their day. There are exceptions. Anyone can have a difficult day and might not want to get dressed. But if overall, you feel the residents are unkept, that’s a concern.
- 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 the season? (Do keep in mind that seniors typically feel colder and often will wear a sweater or jacket, even if that may be too warm for you.)
Life Enrichment. Socialization is essential to the wellbeing of seniors. Residents want to feel like they are part of the community and engaged in what is going on around them. It is important to their transition that they make new friends and look forward to joining activities and enjoying the amenities offered.
- Does the community schedule a daily list of activities that are engaging and unique?
- Are programs scheduled in the evening and on weekends?
- Can you see an activity during your tour?
- Does the community offer outings outside of the community?
- Do the activities accommodate the physical or cognitive limitations of your loved one?
- Are the residents engaged with the staff? With each other?
Security and Safety. Security and safety are often the reasons why many families choose to move their loved one to an assisted living or memory care community. They are fearful that their loved one living alone might fall, become depressed, or have difficulty preparing meals or getting to the store. And families with a parent or loved one with memory loss face other concerns like wandering and confusion.
- Are there handrails in the hallways?
- Sprinkler systems throughout the community?
- Does the community have a receptionist greeting visitors at the door?
- How are visitors managed within the community?
- Do visitors sign in and out?
- Are there 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?
Food and Dining. To taste the cuisine for yourself, we suggest that you schedule a tour during a meal. Food is a source of both nutrition and comfort. Most assisted living communities offer three meals, drinks, and snacks throughout the day, which are vital to your loved one’s continued strength and balanced nutrition.
- 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?
- What if your parent or loved one needs help with feeding themselves? Do they offer alternatives like finger foods and smoothies?
- Is the dining room comfortable and inviting for meals?
Costs. On your tour, this is a great opportunity to make sure you understand the costs and ask enough questions to clarify their billing process and policies.
- Are there monthly fees?
- Are there additional charges?
- 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? In determining and monitoring staffing levels, Aegis Living considers resident assessments and other factors.
What to Ask
Researching an assisted living or memory care community for your parent or loved one may be something that you have never thought about before now. Once you determine that your loved one needs more care, you can start the research to find a new home where they will be cared for and comfortable. We suggest that you tour the community and ask plenty of questions to figure out if the community is a good fit. We can offer some advice and sample questions to help you get started. For example:
- How many staff members care for each resident?
- What type of training does your care staff complete?
- What type of security and safety measures do you have in place?
- What types of apartments are available?
- Do you have transportation for doctor’s appointments?
- Do you have an activity calendar?
- What additional services are available if the care or personal needs change while living here?
Who to Meet
The titles, responsibilities, roles, and functions of those who work at an assisted living community may be unfamiliar terms and concepts for you and your family. It’s important to meet the staff who will be caring for your loved one and to understand how they will interact with your family member on a daily basis. This support network of individuals will contribute to your loved one’s health and happiness and are important people to know. Also, by understanding the separate roles within a community, your family will better understand and be able to evaluate quality senior living staff. On your tour, introduce yourself and ask to meet staff members in a variety of roles. These people will be key to a successful transition to assisted living.
When to Visit
A tour is the best way to experience a community firsthand. As you research options, you may want to plan initial visits to the communities that you have identified within your area and allow time for a second or possibly third visit as you narrow your choices. When making subsequent visits, stagger the times that you tour a community so you can see the activities throughout the day. Each time of day offers you a new opportunity to evaluate the home.
Are residents awake and dressed? Even though they may need help or are experiencing memory loss, your parent should be treated with the dignity they deserve. Residents should be in clean clothes for breakfast, hair combed, teeth brushed, and ready for their day. If residents do not look groomed, this could mean that their care is neglected in other areas. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but you should look for overall personal grooming of the residents, well-attended breakfast in the dining room, and staff friendliness. Also, it stands to reason that the community should be clean—especially at the start of the day before residents have begun activities.
Are residents active? It’s normal for seniors to nap more, but they should not be sleeping all day out of boredom. In an assisted living community, seniors should be engaged in activities throughout the day for their mental and physical health. If it is a sunny day, are the residents outdoors and enjoying the fresh air? Mid-day is a good time to check the security and safety of the outdoor space. Is there a calendar of events posted to show the different activities throughout the day for you to review? Family members tend to visit during the day, ask other families about their opinion of the community.
Are residents interacting around the dinner table? It might be helpful for you or a family member to visit during a meal to taste the quality and see the variety of meals offered. Does the food look fresh, colorful, nutritious, and balanced on the plate? Are the staff open, friendly, and inviting? Follow your instincts and ask plenty of questions.
If you or your family are interested in touring an Aegis Living community, our staff would love to meet you, show you around, and answer your questions. Contact a community near you to schedule a tour.
Additional Resources: Lake Union (Seattle)
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