When touring an assisted living center, you’ll be on the lookout for standards of cleanliness and personal interaction. Eating a meal at the facility can be a great way to start gaining an insider’s view — so if possible, arrange an interview over lunch or dinner at the facility. It’s also helpful to observe a class or facilitated social activity. Here are some suggested questions.
Questions Related to the Home / Facility
- How many people live at the home? What is the ratio of caregivers to residents?
- Does the facility feel home-like? Do you like the décor?
- What are the apartment and room choices? Do you have a full apartment with kitchen?
- Do you have a private bath? Will you share an apartment?
- Does the residence have its own dog or cat? Can residents bring their own pets? What are the restrictions with pets?
- Can residents bring their own furniture and decor? What furnishings are provided?
- Is there a separate thermostat in your room? Is there plenty of natural lighting?
- What is the view like? Is there enough closet and storage space? Are kitchen cabinets easy to reach?
Questions Related to the People
- Talk to the residents and staff? Does the staff seem to genuinely care?
- Would you enjoy sharing meals with the residents? Do you share common interests?
- Are the residents somewhat independent? Is there social activity in the common areas?
- Do the residents seem happy?
Questions Related to the Safety
- Is staff there around the clock? Are all entrances and exits secured?
- Is there a fire sprinkler system? Smoke detectors? Emergency call system in the rooms?
- Are registered nurses on staff? What are their hours? If an RN isn’t on duty 24/7, it’s important to know the center’s protocol in case of nighttime emergencies.
- Are the halls and grounds well lit? Are there handrails in the hallways?
- Are the hallways and doorways wide sufficient for walkers and wheelchairs? Are there walk-in showers?
Questions Related to the Amenities
- Is there a monthly events calendar posted? Are the spiritual services on-site?
- Does the facility have a space for outdoor recreation? If so, make sure that the area looks inviting but is guarded against trespassers.
- Are there transportation schedules for errands and medical appointments?
- What social activities, classes and field trips are facilitated by the staff?
- Crafts room? Computers and printers? Massage therapy? Swimming pool? Convenience shop?
- Is the community near a beauty/hair salon and barber? Library? Grocery store? Movies? Mall?
Other Considerations / Questions
- Is there a meal menu and can choose when to eat? Do the menu selections vary from day to day?
- Ask to see the facility’s licensing and certification reports. These show any patterns of neglect and medication errors.
- Ask to see a copy of the resident agreement which spells out the facility’s obligations. And it will list the charge of items that are extra like laundry service. How close are you to friends and relatives? Are they allowed to stay overnight?
- What is the staff to patient ratio? A good ratio for fairly independent residents is 1 to 15. In some smaller facilities, the staff will perform all the duties while in larger communities there is a separation. What is the staff turnover rate? Rates in the double digits could indicate a problem.
- If a resident becomes more disabled can the facility accommodate those needs?
- Who dispenses medication and how much training have they had? States have training requirements.
- What are the move-out criteria? When might a senior be asked to leave?