Assisted living facilities are an enticing option for many older Americans who no longer feel safe living at home alone, but do not need the extensive (and sometimes expensive) medical and caregiver services found in traditional nursing homes.
Rather than remaining at home and relying on caregivers or family members, assisted living facilities offer residents hotel-like amenities and community events alongside help with daily activities like dressing, bathing and taking medication.
While the middle-of-the-road solution offered by assisted living facilities is appealing to many (there a more people living in these facilities now than ever before,) assisted living facilities undergo much less scrutiny at the state and federal level than traditional nursing homes. This in turn means that prospective residents must show extreme care when shopping for an assisted living facility that meets both their present and future needs.
In this article, we will look at 4 important questions you must ask when considering whether an assisted living facility is right for you, as well as cover some helpful resources you can use to make an informed decision.
1 – What type of assisted living care will the resident need?
Moving from a long-time home or from facility to facility can be a costly, strenuous process, so it is critical that prospective residents choose facilities with care services that will suit their needs in the short and long term.
First, be sure to have an honest, open conversation with the prospective resident’s primary care physician and other medical specialists to understand the level of care they currently need, as well as how those needs might change as they age.
With this information in hand, it is highly recommended that families seek out a Geriatric Care Manager to assist them in finding facilities that have the capacity to care for the resident at every stage of their life. While prices for these services may vary, they are invariably less expensive (and stressful) than bouncing from one facility to another.
2 – How good is the quality of care?
Almost all assisted living facilities offer some degree of on-site medical care, but the quality of this care and the facility’s ability to deliver this care quickly can vary widely.
There are several ways to gather this information. First, check potential facilities for violations issued by the state. Every state tracks these issues differently, however, A Place For Mom offers a helpful state-by-state guide on how to find these records.
Second, speak to current residents and their families (visiting during meal times and on weekends is encouraged) to hear about their experiences with the caregiver staff.
Third, be sure to make several visits and rely on your own observations: do the staff and residents appear happy? Is the staff overworked? Is the food appealing and is the residence kept in good order?
Finally, learn more about procedures and protocol from the facility’s staff. Ask them how they would handle a fall or similar emergency in the middle of the night. Is there a nurse on hand to provide assistance, or would the resident immediately be taken to an Emergency Room?
3 – What is the real cost of assisted living care?
Always ask for a written list of fees and be sure that these fees are noted in a contract BEFORE making your final decision about a facility. While room and board might be affordable, ancillary services like transportation to medical appointments, additional caregiver assistance, additional charges for residents with dietary restrictions and other hidden costs can dramatically change the affordability of a facility.
Be sure to fully understand how these additional fees are triggered and how the facility communicates these additional fees to residents and their families.
4 – What is the assisted living facility’s discharge policy?
Involuntary discharges are the leading cause of complaints among assisted living residents nationwide. Residents are typically asked to leave due to nonpayment, or the facility’s administrators believe the resident’s medical needs exceed the level of care provided at the facility.
To avoid sudden discharges and a scramble to find new housing, be sure to closely review the facility’s discharge policies in your contract before signing on, both to learn what triggers a discharge and how much notice must be given (30 days is most common).
While a facility’s marketing director will normally be very quick to offer verbal assurances that the resident will be able to age in place, verbal agreements are almost impossible to enforce. Be sure to ask for any commitments made on the facility’s part be put in writing and kept in your records before you sign a contract.
SelectCare Home Health Care Services of NY believes everyone has a right to make informed decisions about how and where they live, that’s why our team of home health care experts are here to offer guidance and advice no matter what challenges you face or what solutions you choose to pursue.
Our team of compassionate caregivers and administrators work with every client to find sustainable, long-term solutions that help older adults live happier, healthier lives in the comfort of their long-time homes. To learn more about how we help, call SelectCare today or request a free home health care guide.