Choosing an Assisted Living Community
There are so many "Assisted Living Communities" how do I know which one is right for me? In fact, I am not sure I even know what an "Assisted Living Community" is.
You certainly are not alone if you have these questions! Assisted Living Communities are diverse and offer a wide variety of options, but this variety can provide challenges when you are seeking assisted living services. More importantly, however, variety allows you to find the community that is the right match for your individual needs, personality, and preferences.
What is Assisted Living?
The term "assisted living" is simply a marketing term. It is not defined in any Michigan law or regulation. Basically, assisted living refers to three living options: a licensed adult foster care home, a licensed home for the aged, or an unlicensed housing community. These three housing options may all refer to themselves as an assisted living community. The fact that one type of assisted living community is licensed and another is not does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other. It simply reflects state licensure requirements based on the services provided and who provides the services.
What Type of Assisted Living Community is Right for Me?
The best way to select an assisted living community is to plan in advance. Identify and discuss the options that are available in your area with family, friends, community members, and health care professionals. You will then likely want to visit a number of facilities. It is important to make several visits, at various times, to each residence you are seriously considering.
Things to Consider
Following is a checklist of important services and accommodations to consider when assessing an assisted living community:
- Is the decor attractive and homelike?
- Did you receive a warm greeting from staff?
- Does the administrator/staff call residents by name and interact warmly with them?
- Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy?
- Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the residence?
- Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you?
- Is staff appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
- Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
- Is the community well designed for the resident's needs?
- Is the floor plan easy to follow?
- Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs/walkers?
- Are handrails available to aid in walking?
- Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
- Does the residence have good natural and artificial lighting?
- Is the residence clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled?
Service Plans, Contracts, Costs & Finances
- Is there a written plan for service for each resident?
- Does the residence have a process for assessing a resident's need for services and are those needs addressed periodically?
- Does this process include the resident, their family, facility staff, and the resident's physician?
- When may a contract be terminated and what are refund policies?
- Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services?
- Is a contractual agreement available to include accommodations, personal care, health care and supportive services?
- Are additional services available if the resident's needs change?
- Is there a procedure to pay for additional services like nursing care when the services are needed on a temporary basis?
- Are there different costs for various levels or categories of services?
- May a resident handle his/her own finances with staff assistance or should a family member or outside party be designated to do so?
- Are residents required to purchase renters' insurance for personal property?
Medication & Health Care
- Does the residence have specific policies regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications, training, and supervision of staff?
- Is self-administration of medication allowed?
- Is staff available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?
- Does a physician or nurse visit the resident regularly to provide medical checkups?
- Are pharmacy, podiatry, and/or physical therapy services offered on-site?
- Does the residence have a clearly stated procedure for responding to a resident's medical emergency?
Services & Amenities
- Can the residence provide a list of services available?
- Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and mobility?
- Are barber/beautician, nail or massage services offered on-site?
- Does the residence provide housekeeping services in residents' units?
- Does the residence provide laundry services?
- Does the residence provide transportation to doctors' offices, shopping, and other activities?
- Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
Individual Unit Features
- Are different sizes and types of units available including single or double occupancy?
- Do residents have their own lockable doors?
- Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from the unit?
- Are bathrooms private with handicapped accommodations?
- Are residents able to bring their own furnishings?
- Do all units have a telephone and cable TV and how is billing handled?
- Is a kitchen area/unit provided with a refrigerator, sink, and cooking element?
- May residents keep food in their units?
- May residents smoke in their units?
Social and Recreational Activities
- Is there evidence of organized activities such as a posted daily schedule, events in progress, reading materials, visitors, etc.?
- Do residents participate in activities outside of the residence in the neighboring community?
- Do volunteers, including family members, come into the residence to help with or conduct programs?
- Are residents' pets allowed in the residence?
- Does the residence have its own pets?
- Does the residence provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days a week?
- May family members or guests dine with residents? If so, is there a cost?
- Are snacks available?
- May a resident request special foods?
- Are common dining areas available?
- May residents eat meals in their units?
- May meals be provided at a time a resident would like or are there set times for meals?
For more comprehensive information to help you choose the assisted living community that is right for you go to www.alfa.org.