Technology makes it easy to “tour” a community without ever leaving home. It can be a convenient way to find the answers to basic questions and to view a community’s photos and virtual tours. But it’s important not to stop there.
Finding the right assisted living community is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. The next step should be a personal visit that includes both a tour and time to have your questions answered.
The following five tips will help you make the most of your visit and will give you the right questions to ask when touring an assisted living facility.
How to Make the Most of a Senior Living Community Tour
While on your tour, it is important to not only meet the management team, but to spend time getting to know them. These are the people that can answer your questions. And, should this be the community you choose, they are the ones who will be responsible for the quality of care your senior loved one receives.
Schedule an appointment so they can dedicate time to provide you with the answer to your questions. Plan to discuss issues such as:
- Community’s ability to meet your senior loved one’s unique needs
- Staffing information: availability, skills and training levels
- Emergency care plans
- Safety and security features
- Types of personal care services
- Housekeeping and laundry
- Types of maintenance provided
- Meals and snacks
- Nutritionist for special dietary needs
- Activities and social offerings
- Costs involved and methods for payment
- Move-out criteria
- Goals of the community.
Caregivers help to set the tone of a community. To get a thorough understanding of the manner in which they interact with residents, make sure to also visit at times when the administrators aren’t around. Before breakfast, after dinner or even on the weekend might be good times.
Be observant of the following when choosing an assisted living facility:
- Number of staff actually involved in providing personal care
- Does the community feel properly staffed or understaffed?
- Interactions between staff and seniors
- Do staff members make eye contact, smile, and listen?
- Do they respond to conversation efforts? Answer questions?
- Are residents treated with dignity? Shown respect?
- Do residents seem to like the staff?
- Also be sure to pay attention to resident care issues such as:
- Are residents dressed appropriately for the time of day? The activities they are involved in? The current weather?
- Do residents appear to be well-groomed with trimmed nails and hair? And are men clean-shaven?
- Are residents out of their rooms and engaged in meaningful activities?
3. Food and Friendship
Use the tour as an opportunity to “taste test” the community’s food. Stay for lunch or dinner. Not only will this be beneficial to answering your questions about the preparation and types of food provided, but it also gives you a chance to meet some of the residents currently living in the community.
Ask about the following when choosing an assisted living facility:
- Dining hours and procedures
- Quality of food and variety of options
- Availability to have meals delivered if the resident isn’t feeling well
- Opportunity for friends and family to join residents as guests at meals
Talking with residents will also help to give you an indication of how compatible your loved one might be with residents. For instance, does anyone come from the same background or profession as your parent or senior family member? What are the most popular hobbies and interests of residents?
Finally, take time to ask residents you meet for their honest opinion about where they live.
4. Outside Areas
Spend some of your time investigating the outdoor areas that are available to those living in the community. Is it attractive and well maintained? Is it fenced? Does it feel safe and secure? Are there areas for activities and benches for sitting?
Depending upon the weather, are there staff and individuals outside enjoying the day? If your senior loved one is a gardener, is there a place for them to have a small garden plot or raised flower bed?
Taking good notes is an important part of the touring process. Be sure to jot down notes as you go and to document your overall impressions once you leave. Having these notes can prove very helpful when it is time to compare the different communities and make a final decision.
When touring, keep in mind that this may be your loved one’s new home. As you are looking around, do you feel comfortable? If you do, then chances are your parent will too!