How Can I Be Sure This Assisted Living Is A Good One?
Children usually don't sit around and talk about assisted living facilities with their totally independent parents. It's more likely that when it's time to make this decision, the child or children are dealing with an enormous amount of stress, sadness and/or guilt. If they have no experience in this area, deciding what to do is a very difficult decision. This is even more true when you consider all the things that could go wrong in an assisted living.
If you are going through this situation, there is hope! There are some things you can do that will give you confidence in your decision.
Check With Local Regulating Agencies
Every state is different, but most states, if not all, regulate assisted livings. In Florida, The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) is the regulatory agency. All of their inspections and complaint visits are a matter of public record. You can go to their website and look up any facility and find out what, if any deficiencies were found, and what the facility did to correct them. This will help you see if there are problems and what they are, as well as if there is a pattern of deficiencies. Facilities are also required to keep these results on hand for anyone who requests them.
Ask For A Tour
When you narrow down your list, ask to tour the remaining choices. The facilities will be happy to have you come in and tour their facility. You will be able to see what they have to offer and find out what their prices are. While on the tour, please pay special attention to the faces and body language of the residents and the staff. This will give you a clue to the morale of the facility. Do the residents look happy, clean and involved? Is the staff smiling? Does the facility feel warm and welcoming or cold and institutional? Write this down for further reference later. As you see more than one facility, you will get a feel for judging this.
Ask To Stay For A Meal
Ask if you can begin or end your tour with lunch or dinner. This will give you a chance to see the menu and taste the food. This will also give you time to watch the staff interact with the residents. Are they respectful, cheerful and upbeat? Do the residents socialize with each other? Can you see your parents fitting in with the others? It's even better if your parents are with you and you sit with current residents. Ask them questions. How do they like it here? Why or why not?
Ask To Meet With The Nursing Director
Is the nursing director welcoming? Do they answer your questions or do they seem uninterested? Do they give you extra information, or answer only what they ask? Are they personable? Is other resident's information safeguarded in their office? If your parents move into this facility, the nursing director will be a partner with you in their care. He or she needs to show interest in your parents and listen to what you have to say. They are the experts in care, but you are the experts on your parents. The best chance at success is for you all to work as a team.
If you follow these tips, you will get a pretty good picture of each facility. Hopefully, you will come out with a clear answer. If you are still interested in more than one facility, ask for a second tour. Tell them what you do like and do not like and listen to their answers.
Choosing an assisted living facility is a very stressful time. Hopefully, this methodical approach will make it as easy as possible, while ensuring the best fit for your family. The goal is for the facility to become home.