Selecting an Assisted Living Community
Remember to use all five senses when visiting and making a decision about an assisted living community. Trust your initial feelings and reactions and choose the community that is the best fit and the most comfortable for your loved one who will be living there.
General Overview of Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities are designed for individuals who are no longer able to live on their own safely, but do not require the high level of care provided in a nursing home. Assistance with activities of daily living, medication assistance and, meals and housekeeping are routinely provided. Residents live in their own private apartments and staff is available 24 hours per day for additional needs and safety. Most assisted living communities provide licensed nursing services, social activities and, some provide a special secured unit for Alzheimer's residents.
Some assisted living settings are large communities while others offer services in a private residence that meets state licensing requirements. A continuing care retirement community offers a campus style living environment that has a combination of senior apartments, assisted living and skilled nursing areas.
What questions should I ask?
The following questions are meant to assist in the decision making process.
Personal Services: Does the community provide...
Space and Safety:
- Assistance with all activities of daily living; dressing, bathing, grooming?
- How many times per week is bathing provided?
- Assistance with toileting? Assistance with incontinence? Does it include assistance with bowel and bladder?
- Assistance with transfers from wheelchair to bed, etc.?
- Assistance with escorts if poor vision is a problem?
- Assistance with medications?
- Is the resident involved in the care planning process? Is the family or legal representative involved?
- Are the care plans updated to reflect the changes in care needs?
Meals and Socialization:
- What size units are offered?
- Are the units shared or private? Are the bathrooms shared or private?
- Is there space for personal belongings? Does the floor plan allow for easy mobility especially when using walkers or wheelchairs?
- Is there safety equipment in the bathroom (grab bars, raised toilet seats)?
- Is there a call system?
- Are walkers and/or wheelchairs permitted? Are the hallways and doorways wide enough?
License and Provider Agreements and Staff:
- Are specialized diets available? Cultural or ethnic preferences considered?
- Are there meal substitutions or extra helpings available?
- Are snacks and beverages available between meals?
- Are there activities within the facility? Do they also go out for activities?
- Is there a designated person to conduct activities? Would interests match the level or type of activities provided? Pick up a written schedule of activities if available.
Facility Tour /Observations:
- Is the community licensed by the state and in good standing? Are they Medicaid certified? Does the staff receive training? Is there high staff turn-over? What is the ratio of staff to residents? Is the staff awake at night?
- Have you reviewed the terms of the agreement? Are specific services offered clearly identified in the agreement?
- Review the House Rules.
- Review all the reasons for discharge and is the unused portion of the rent refunded upon discharge.
Making the decision to place a friend or family member in an assisted living community can be difficult. When making your final selection, keep these tips in mind:
- Have you toured the entire community? Does the atmosphere seem pleasant?
- Does there seem to be enough staff?
- Have you observed a meal?
- Do residents seem happy and engaged? Do residents appear clean, groomed and odor-free?
- Have you observed staff interaction with residents?
- Have you observed for cleanliness and odors?
- Trust your initial feelings and reactions.
- Make an unannounced visit after your initial tour.
- Try not to make a hasty decision.
- Talk to residents.
- Ask for references.
- Take home copies of the agreement and house rules to review.