Written by Josh Horsman
Making the decision that it’s time for a loved-one to move out of their home and into an assisted-living facility can be a difficult and emotional process for any family to go through, whether the decision is made by the person or in their best interest by family members. Then once the decision is made, there is the complex and often overwhelming task of finding the right facility where your loved-one can live safely and happily. If assisted living is something you are currently considering or a future possibility, then read on to find our tips on what to look for to find the right facility for you and your family member.
Here are the key questions you should seek to answer during your search:
1. Who are You Choosing For?
The first step when you set out to find the right assisted-living facility is to prepare your mindset. A common mistake people can make is to look for the facility that meets their own needs rather than those of their loved-one. When visiting facilities, it’s easy to get impressed and carried away by features such as exercise studios or vast, spacious rooms. But it’s important to view facilities through the eyes of your loved-one and what would make them most comfortable. For example they may not like to workout and be used to a smaller, more cosy environment. Take the time to consider each facility from their perspective and you’ll be sure to find the best fit.
2. Is Care Individualised?
If your loved-one is moving to an assisted living facility, it is probably because they require a closer degree of care and attention than you yourself are able to provide them in their home. However, surprisingly, this kind of quality care and attention is not a given in assisted-living facilities. You should aim to find somewhere where care is individualised and residents are looked after according to their own specific needs and preferences rather than treated as a collective. One good indicator of this is the staff to resident ratio.
3. Is the Environment Welcoming to Family members?
Moving into assisted living provides an opportunity for your loved-one to get the specialised care and round-the-clock attention they need, but of course that not having to provide the care yourself doesn’t mean you want to spend any less time with them and there shouldn’t have to be a trade-off. During your search, consider the allowances each facility makes for guests and family members and how welcome you are to come and go, as well as the way guests are treated by facility staff.
4. How Compassionate are the Staff?
Spending time talking with members of staff at each facility will give you a good idea of their personalities and therefore the manner in which they will care for your loved-one. Watch how they interact with each other and with residents and see if they treat residents with respect and as individuals with their own personalities, wants and needs. Take the time to talk to both medical and non-medical staff to get a full picture of the care your loved-one will receive on a daily basis.
5. How is the Food?
The dining room should be another important port-of-call on your visit to each facility. It may seem like a superficial thing to base your decision on, but nutrition is a vital component of personal health, especially for a senior citizen. Proper nutrition can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing illness, building immunity and maintaining general wellbeing.
Be sure to choose a facility that serves healthy, nutritionally balanced meals.
6. Are the Medical Personnel Helpful?
Medical care is an important part of daily life in an assisted living facility, so it’s important that you know what kind of assistance and expertise are offered in each facility. Making sure that your loved-one’s medical needs are taken care of and in the hands of professionals will give you great peace of mind.
7. Is the Environment Safe and Clean?
Cleanliness should be a red-line when it comes to choosing the right facility. It is not something that should be compromised on, because cleanliness is a sign of the care and attentiveness of staff, the atmosphere of the home and the health of residents. The home should also be safe and secure for residents.
8. Do they Encourage Residents to Pursue their Passions?
This is a super important thing to consider. Does the prospective facility have an activity program? Are there opportunities for residents to get together and socialise? Will your loved-one be able to continue pursuing their passion whether that be gardening or painting, movies or music. Are there opportunities for organised trips and excursions outside the facility? These activities will provide the sense of purpose that drives your loved-ones daily life in any facility and so finding a home where they can develop themselves and explore their interests is of paramount importance. Studies show that older people who are physically and socially active live longer and stay healthier than those who lead sedentary lives.
9. Are they Properly Licensed?
It sounds obvious, but it isn’t always a ‘given’. Be sure that the facility meets your states regulations concerning assisted living. You can do this by checking with the agency which licences such facilities in your state. This varies with each state. You can also do online searches or check in with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are have been any concerning complaints against the facility.
10. Does it Feel Like a Home?
Finally, and most of all, an assisted living facility is a home and so it should feel like one for your loved-one. They will likely spend years of their life there and it will form the center of their social sphere. It should be the kind of place where they can have privacy when they wish, but also feel part of a community. Where they can be looked after and cared for but maintain independence. It should provide them with somewhere they can call their own and be an environment in which they can continue to live their lives as they have always done before and wish to in the future.