What to Ask When Touring an Assisted Living Community
So, you have decided to start exploring assisted living. Getting out and seeing each community is an important step. Knowing what to look for and what to ask is even more important.
This is a big decision and as you narrow down your list of options for your new home, please take the time to have a meal at the community. Food is a huge part of our lives and any community should be delighted to have you stay for lunch or dinner. We can observe much from dining in a community. How lively and engaged are the residents? Are they having a good time? Is there laughter? Is the food well-prepared and appealing? Is there more than one entrée option to select from?
Another suggestion is to take part in a few activities of interest and attend an event in the community. Is the overall vibe welcoming and friendly?
Most likely you will tour with the Director of Marketing, but please take time to meet the Executive Director, Director of Nursing, Activity Director and Chef. These are the people who have leadership positions in the community. Also pay special attention to caregiver and resident interactions. Is staff smiling? Are residents smiling? Do residents and staff feel genuinely connected?
Below are some additional questions to ask or observe when visiting communities:
- What change of condition can the community NOT manage? Can you comfortably age in place here?
- What is the resident to caregiving staff ratio in the day and night time?
- Is there caregiving help 24 hours a day?
- Is there a background check required for all staff?
- What type of training do caregivers have?
- Do you have nurses on staff? How many hours a day is a nurse physically onsite?
- How does medication management work in the community? Who distributes medications?
- How are prescription refills managed? Does the community take care of it or family?
- Does the community have an in-house physician or nurse practitioner visiting the community regularly?
- Is transportation provided? Is there a certain mile radius?
- Are care plans developed and timed around resident preferences? Will help with morning and nighttime routines work around a resident’s natural waking and sleep schedule?
- What safety measures are there for residents? Emergency pull cords in apartments or pendants?
- Does the community use any technology for care, accuracy, and resident well-being?
- Are therapies available in the community?
- Is there help to create a personalized exercise plan for residents?
- How are new residents welcomed into the community?
- How long does the community help a new resident acclimate to the new surroundings?
- Do you have a resident ambassador program?
- Are families welcome to take part? How?
- Does the community offer any technology to help residents and families to stay engaged?
- Are resident suggestions welcome for the activity and events calendar?
- Inspect the calendar. Is there a variety of activities and events that you would enjoy?
- What are the serving hours for meals?
- Does the community have Anytime Dining so you can eat when you want?
- Is there more than one dining venue besides the main dining room?
- What if you don’t like what is being served? What other options are there?
- Is there meal delivery to a resident’s apartment if they aren’t feeling well?
- How often does the community have rent increases? How much are the increases?
- Is care level all- inclusive or is it a separate charge?
- What is your process for charging when care level increases?
- Is there any initial entrance or community fee upon moving in?
- Is the community offering any sign on/ move-in incentives?
- What is the community’s billing process? Can the bill be paid electronically?
- Is cable and Wi-Fi included?
- Does the community look and feel clean? Are there any odors?
- Is the interior temperature comfortable? Is the community cool in the summer and warm in the winter?
- Is there an abundance of natural light coming into the community? In the apartment?
- Are you happy with the amount of green space surrounding the community?
- Are the grounds well landscaped and cared for with comfortable sitting areas to enjoy being outside?
- How are apartment maintenance issues resolved and how quickly? What is the process?
- Is the community pet friendly?
- What type of security does the community have in admitting vendors and guests?
Let’s take a moment to talk about online ratings and reviews. These can be a very viable source of information and insight into a community. If it is a community you are interested in and come across negative reviews, do not cross it off of your list before you have seen it. Bring it up and talk about it with the Marketing Director or Executive Director. There are many times that there are extenuating circumstances and it is a good practice to include this discussion as part of the interview process. It is also important to find out how responsive a community is in dealing with negative feedback. Most will welcome the opportunity and more often than not, it is a one- off review or ownership has resolved the issue.
By using these tips and questions as a guide, will help you learn about each community with a more in-depth look to make a well- informed decision.