Advice Assisted Living

Asking the Right Questions about Senior Living Providers

Nurse and man reading documents

When an older adult and their loved ones are evaluating a senior living community, they need to know how important it is to ask questions about the provider’s commitment to resident care.

In simple terms: is the community committed to the resident’s care needs now and down the road when they will likely require more assistance?  To determine that, there are some important questions they should be asking.

Resident Centered Care in Senior Living
We know our referral partners are often called upon to offer advice to seniors and their families in their search for assisted living. And we also know how challenging that might be for you. It’s why we shared information on how to assess an organization’s systems for accountability last week. And why we wanted to share insight on commitment this week.

Commitment begins with recognizing how tough it can be for an older adult to leave their home and move to a whole new environment. The transition can be emotionally exhausting, as well as physically demanding. Getting it right the first time is important.

For many families, the needs of the day are what they focus on during their search. Their goal might be to find a community that is safe for a senior who is living alone for the first time. Or for an older adult who is struggling to manage their medications.

But it’s equally important to encourage families to ask about the future: what happens when a resident’s needs change?

Educating families about the right questions to ask is one of the ways you can help them make an informed choice.

Questions to Encourage Families to Ask About Assisted Living
Here are a few questions you can encourage seniors and their loved ones to ask:

• How many levels of care does the community offer and how is each one defined?
• Who determines what level of care a resident falls under and what the process is for making that determination?
• Does the community routinely reexamine each resident’s level of care needs?
• What training programs are in place to ensure each employee excels in delivering care at all levels? Ask for specific examples.
• You may want to inquire about how their managerial coverage works.  Do they require only 1 manager on duty at any given time throughout the week, including weekends, or is there a consistent manager presence throughout the week?

Finally, we come to one of the most important questions of all to ask to truly determine a provider’s commitment to resident care at all levels.

• What changes/circumstances would require a resident to move to another community or nursing home? Again, ask for specific examples.
• It is important that you understand if an organization is able to care for your loved one at all levels of care within the care level costs, or if outside help/expense is required for certain care scenarios.  Some common needs that can occur as your loved one ages:
• Modified diets (pureed food and thickened liquids)
• Two-person assistance to help your loved one with transfers and other activities of daily living
• Mechanical lifts for transferring someone who has mobility difficulties

We hope this information helps you feel more confident working with families who are searching for an assisted living community.

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