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What to Look For in An Assisted Living Facility
What to Look For in An Assisted Living Facility
There may come a time when you, or someone you care for, will need help with day to day activities. This is the purpose of an assisted living facility.
When faced with making that major decision it is important to know what to expect and what questions to ask. This will allow you to better, and more thoroughly, evaluate each residence.
Here are some suggestions that can help you make the choice that is best for you:
The resident agreement - Ask each residence for copies of the facility's 'resident agreement' that outlines its services, prices, staffing, all extra charges, the admission and discharge criteria, and the house rules.
Be sure it is solvent and has credentials - It is reasonable, and extremely important, to request a 'disclosure statement' that shows ownership and the financial solvency of the provider. You will need to know if the residence is licensed by the individual state and is a member of the 'Assisted Living Federation.' These memberships will demonstrate the community's professional development and ethical standard.
It should feel right - The atmosphere must feel right to you from the moment you walk in the door. All outward appearances must satisfy what you are looking for, such as a warm welcoming by a friendly staff. If this is to be your home you should be able to speak to the other residents. Observe if the residents appear happy and comfortable.
Safety and Security - The physical features of the residence should make you feel safe in case of an emergency. Check to see if the floor plan is easy to follow with clearly marked exits. The hallways should be wide enough for wheelchairs and walkers, complete with handrails to aid in walking, and non-skid flooring. The residence should be able to tell you what their means of security are if a resident wanders at any time.
Request every contract - Discuss all contracts, costs and financing. Find out if the contractual agreement will clearly disclose health care and supportive services, all fees, as well as admission and discharge policies.
Find out if there are financial aid programs - To cover the costs of services find out if there are any government, corporate or private programs available. Should you not be satisfied with this facility at a later date, find out when the contract may be terminated, and the policy that covers a refund.
Determine if your medical needs can be met - Depending on your own medical needs you will need to know to what extent medical services are provided as well as what kind. Be sure there is a staff person who will coordinate home care visits from a nurse, physical therapist, etc. when needed. Check to see if a physician will regularly visit to provide medical checkups. The residence should have a clearly worded procedure for responding to medical emergencies.
Find out about extra services and assistance - Ask for a list of all services provided. This will include assistance with daily activities such as hygiene, dressing, mobility, eating, and housekeeping services in the residents' units. On-site services should be available such as a beautician and a barber. Check to see if you or the facility can arrange for transportation to outside services such as your own doctor, hairdresser, shopping and other activities.
Check out individual units - You should feel comfortable in your own individual unit. Check to see if doors are lockable and if there is a 24-hour emergency response system in the unit. Determine if the unit comes furnished or how much you can bring from home. If there is a telephone and cable TV, now is the time to find out if there is an additional cost.
Look at the activites offered - Check to see what kind of social and recreational activities are available for the residents. You should be able to see a posting of such activities.
Discuss your dietary needs - If you have special dietary needs, find out if the residence will accommodate you. Take a look at the menu to see if it includes three nutritionally balanced meals per day, seven days a week, with snacks included. If you prefer to eat in your unit, see if that is possible with a refrigerator and cook top available in the unit.
Revisit the facilities you are considering - As you assess assisted living residences, be sure to visit a number of communities. To determine which one is right for you, or your loved ones, evaluate each community based on individual needs. When you decide on one, be sure to visit it several more times and at different times of the day and evening. Each subsequent visit should feel as good as the first time.
It is also a good idea to bring along a friend or family member.
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