Making the decision to move a loved one into an assisted living facility can be difficult. Finding the right place for them to live can quickly become overwhelming.
The best way to stay focused and find the proper facility is to make a checklist and ask questions. That way, you can evaluate each location, compare them, and know which options and resources are the most important to you or your loved one.
Selecting an Assisted Living Facility is a Two-Step Process
There are two steps to the process of choosing a center. Step one is knowing what to ask even before visiting. Save yourself a lot of time by being prepared with questions. If you don’t hear the right answers, don’t bother taking a tour. Step two is bringing a separate list of questions and making observations while at the assisted living center. By staying organized, you will be able to decide on the right place faster and easier.
When you first call a facility, here are some suggestions as to what to ask. Again, if you aren’t happy with the answers, go to the next name on your list.
• What is your availability of apartments? Are they one-bedroom or studio units?
• What is the cost per month? What does that include? How much are additional services?
• Is there is a waiting list? How many names are on it?
• What is the ratio of staff-to-residents? Can they administer medication?
• How many staff work overnight? Is there always a nurse or doctor on call?
• If the needs of a resident change, are additional services available?
• Do you have any outdoor space? How often do residents go outside? What kind of entertainment, hobbies, etc., are available for residents?
When you decide to visit a prospective assisted living facility, here are some questions to ask and observations to be aware of. Use a checklist to keep good notes and get answers.
Observations As you walk in the door of the assisted living center, look around. What do you see? How does this place make you feel? Are people smiling or are residents being ignored? Below are things to observe while getting a tour.
• When you walked in, were you greeted and made to feel welcome?
• Are there handrails in all hallways?
• Do staff members seem kind and caring? Do they call residents by name?
• Are both the staff and residents well-groomed, with clean clothes, clean nails, etc.?
• Do residents appear happy and interacting together? Are there activities offered each day or week that your loved one will enjoy?
• Are meals nutritious and appealing? Are special meals available for those with diabetes or allergies? Will they let you walk into the kitchen or talk to staff?
• Are resident’s apartments clean and odor-free? What about communal areas?
• Is the temperature comfortable? Is the lighting bright enough? Have residents dressed appropriately for the weather?
Safety Questions Below are some essential questions to ask the staff or manager. Some may have been asked when you initially spoke on the phone but feel free to ask again. It never hurts to verify the answers.
• Prior to admission, do you do an initial assessment?
• When preparing care plans, are the residents and families included in the process?
• Does each resident have an individual plan of care?
• What additional services are available if the needs of a resident change?
• Is the facility regularly visited by a physician? Do all residents get regular check-ups?
• Can medication be administered by staff?
• Who coordinates outside care-provider visits?
• How do you handle medical emergencies?
• How strongly are residents prompted to come to meals or activities?
• Is renter’s insurance required?
• If a resident/family is dissatisfied, is there a complaint and/or appeals process?
• What kind of training and experience is your staff required to have?
There may be other important questions to ask that are specific to you or your loved one. Be sure to write them down prior to touring the facility. Often things get forgotten in the moment. Just because you’ve visited one facility doesn’t mean they’re all the same. This is a big decision – take your time and choose thoughtfully and carefully.
For more information, feel free to contact The Villa St Francis in Milwaukee. Villa St. Francis was founded in 1990 by the Felician Sisters, a religious order established in Warsaw, Poland in 1855 to meet the needs of the poor, the orphaned, the sick and the elderly. The Sisters first brought their ministry to Wisconsin in 1874 and have served the Milwaukee community since 1907. Their commitment to service can be found in many places throughout our city—from St. Francis Hospital, which they were instrumental in raising funds for in the 1950s, to the Child Development Center of St. Joseph, an early-education non-profit on Milwaukee’s south side.