There are so many considerations to make when choosing the right assisted living community for you or your loved one. It can be difficult, as choosing the right path for the future comes with many questions and concerns. When you or an aging loved one can no longer live on their own, it may be time to look at assisted living options that best suit their needs. These differ from independent living in many ways, but if you’re curious as to how — check out Independent vs. Assisted Living.
For now, let’s dive a little deeper into what assisted living can entail.
What Is Assisted Living?
The very heart of assisted living is providing adults with personalized care in a community and residential environment. Seniors with health or well-being needs may require a helping hand or additional support. Assisted living communities are built around making life easier and more comfortable for aging adults — along with services for social engagement and healthy living.
Some common supports in an assisted living setting may include:
- Medication management
- Transportation services
- Assistance using the bathroom
- Dressing and grooming
Assisted living communities often have social activities and programs built around its residents — to promote a wholesome lifestyle. You or your loved one may be given an individualized service plan to meet certain areas of need and ensure that care is catered to their exact requirements.
Questions You Should Ask
How Does Your Community Welcome a New Resident?
The first days and weeks in a new community can significantly impact how you or your aging loved one feels about their new home. Ask the assisted living team about what you can expect — along with support systems in place for adjusting to a new environment.
You want to ensure that assisted living staff gets to know their new residents and makes an effort to welcome newcomers. Ask about what type of engagement you can expect, questionnaires they may have to better understand their residents, and how much time staff will spend with new community members during the first few weeks.
What Kind of Training Does Your Team Undergo?
You want what’s best for yourself, or your aging loved one, which means asking about what type of training staff undergoes in order to work in the community. A critical component of happy living is a well-educated and certified staff.
Ask about company compliance standards and whole-person care. Listen to what the assisted living team has to say about their philosophy, orientation practices, and evaluations. You can also ask about how many staff the community employs, including inquiries regarding the number of team members in each department — whether it be nursing, activities, kitchen, therapy, and more.
How Many Residents Do You Have?
Similarly to getting to know the staff’s capacities, you can ask about how many residents the community has. This can point out any red flags that may emerge in facilities with too little staff and too many residents.
Do You Have Staff on-Site 24/7?
Assisted living facilities typically have teams that work both day and night to ensure the health, wellness, and happiness of residents. However, it may be worth asking what type of personnel will be available 24/7. You can include questions about bathing care, dressing, medication management, and even nursing practitioners.
Ask about which staff are on-site or on-call — and the proper way to ensure you or your loved one can receive care if need be.
What Kind of Meal Services Do You Offer?
When looking for an ideal assisted living facility, you’ll want to ensure that they have a variety of dining options to choose from. Ask about menu options, meal planning, and if there are different styles, such as buffet, restaurant, or family-style dining.
What you’re really looking for here are accommodation and variation.
What Type of Activities Are Available?
One of the more popular routes assisted living communities take is implementing a monthly activities calendar or schedule to encourage residents’ engagement. Ask about what type of activities are popular, and be on the lookout for a diverse range of activities.
Ask about if staff consult with residents about future activity programs. You want to make sure that their team is actively pursuing the residents’ interests while also offering opportunities for growth. Look for activities that are intellectually engaging, physically active, sociable, or even spiritual.
As we said, you want a variety of activities on the calendar that offer different ways of creating a vibrant community that promotes a purposeful life.
What Type of Voice Do Your Residents Have?
This is an important one, as it illustrates how committed a community is to create a flourishing environment for its residents. Ask about what influence residents have in their care plans, activities, meal preparation, and more. Does the assisted living facility have a Resident Council? What about Town Hall meetings that engage residents, staff, and even family members in the community’s future?
You want to ensure that every aspect of life takes into account the residents and their voices.
What Role Does Family Play?
Another important question is regarding family. You want a community that allows visits, volunteer opportunities, and even participation in social activities. Can families meet with various departments and staff to discuss matters concerning their loved ones? Does the family have any say in the preferences or needs of their parents? These are all fantastic questions to ask before choosing an assisted living facility.
Note: This may not be possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still an important aspect of assisted living. Here, you can ask about what type of visitation they may allow during these difficult times, along with safety protocols they take to ensure the safety of residents, staff, and family members.
How Do You Track Resident Happiness?
One of the biggest indicators of a successful, assisted living environment is how well it measures resident satisfaction. Many facilities offer surveys or discuss residents’ happiness in small groups to gain perspective into the overall well-being of the community.
Ask to see a sample of the survey. If possible, meet with current residents to get an idea of how much they enjoy their home.
How Do You Foster a Sense of Community
Ask about what type of relationship staff and residents have, how they get to know one another, and what type of group or personalized engagement residents can expect.
It’s important for an assisted living facility to have both formal and informal ways of creating a sense of community.
Touring a potential assisted living facility can be exciting or even nerve-racking — which means some crucial details may be missed during the visit. So, here are some tips to keep in mind during the touring process.
- Show up at least 10 minutes early so you can passively observe the community without being “solicited.”
- Talk to residents or family members while touring to gain some added perspective.
- Ask to see the most recent state survey.
Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility
Making the right choice in an assisted living community can seem like a never-ending search. Hopefully, these questions help during your visits and tours — offering a little more insight into the type of residential environment is best for you or your aging loved one.