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?