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Questions to Ask About Assisted Living

- Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Spring Arbor, Assisted Living in Richmond, VA

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 ten 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?

For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.

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