Questions to ask when visiting any elder care facility.
First Impressions of a long-term care, assisted living facility are an extremely important factor in choosing the ideal living situation.
✓ Do you like the facility’s location and outward appearance?
✓ Is the facility convenient for frequent visits by family and friends?
✓ Is the facility near a shopping complex?
✓ Can the resident access a medical complex easily?
✓ Is public transportation available and accessible?
✓ Are you welcomed with a warm greeting from the staff?
✓ Does the staff address residents by their names and interact with them during your visits?
✓ Do you notice the residents socializing with each other and do they appear content?
✓ Can you talk with residents about how they like living there and about the staff?
✓ Is the staff appropriately dressed, friendly and outgoing?
✓ Do staff members treat each other in a professional matter?
✓ Are visits with the residents encouraged and welcomed at any time?
✓ What percentage of the units have been rented and are currently occupied?
✓ Is there a waiting list? If so, how long do they estimate it will take to be admitted?
Living Areas & Accommodations
Living areas and accommodations are extremely important factors in an assisted living facility’s long-term potential for your loved one or yourself.
✓ Is the floor plan well-designed and easy to follow?
✓ Are doorways, hallways and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
✓ Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
✓ Does the residence have good lighting, sprinklers and clearly marked exits?
✓ Is the residence clean, free of odors and appropriately heated/cooled?
✓ Are the common areas in general attractive, comfortable and clean?
✓ Is there an outside courtyard or patio for residents and visits?
✓ Is there an emergency evacuation plan?
✓ Are there different sizes and types of units available with optional floor plans?
✓ Does residence have furnished/unfurnished rooms?
✓ What is provided or what can I bring?
✓ May residents decorate their own rooms?
✓ Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible in the unit?
✓ Are bathrooms private with handicapped accommodations for wheelchairs and walkers?
✓ Do all units have a telephone and cable TV and how is billing handled?
✓ May residents smoke in their units?
Moving In, Contracts, & Finances
Don’t forget to ask about the details, and make sure you understand exactly what is included in the care provided.
✓ What is involved with the moving in/moving out process? How is the initial needs assessment done?
✓ Does the assessment process include the resident, family, and facility staff?
✓ Is there a written plan for the care of each resident and is there an ongoing process assessing a resident’s need for services? If so, how often are those needs evaluated?
✓ Will your room be held for you should you require a hospital home stay?
✓ Is there a written statement available of the resident rights and responsibilities?
✓ How much is the monthly fee?
✓ What are the specific costs for various levels or categories of services?
✓ Are residents required to purchase renters’ insurance for personal property in their rooms?
Health & Personal Care Services
✓ Are there professional nursing services on site?
✓ Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? (ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene, grooming (bathing, toileting, incontinence.)
✓ What is the staff to resident ratio?
✓ How are medical emergencies handled? Does the residence have a clearly stated procedure for responding to medical emergencies?
✓ Does staff supervise/assist a resident in taking medicine? May residents take own medications?
✓ Does the residence’s pharmacy provide delivery, consultation, and review of medications?
✓ Does staff assist in making arrangements to have medical care or to what extent is medical care available?
✓ Are physical, occupational, or speech therapy services available?
✓ Are wellness programs available?
✓ Are housekeeping and linen services included in the fees?
✓ Does the residence provide transportation to doctors’ offices, and other activities desired by residents?
✓ Are barber/beautician services offered on-site?
Social & Recreational
✓ What kinds of group/individual recreational activities are offered and who schedules them?
✓ Is there an organized activities program with a posted daily schedule of events?
✓ Do volunteers and family members come into the residence to participate/conduct programs?
✓ Does the facility schedule trips or go to other events off premises?
✓ Do residents participate in activities outside of the residence?
✓ Are there supplies for social activities/hobbies (games, cards, crafts)?
✓ Are religious services held on the premises or arrangements made for nearby services?
✓ Does the residence create a sense of community by allowing residents to participate in certain activities or perform simple chores for the group as a whole?
✓ What are the residence’s practices and philosophy regarding staffing?
✓ What are the hiring procedures and requirements for eligibility? Are criminal background checks, references, and certifications required?
✓ Is there a staff training program in place and what does it entail?
✓ Is staff courteous to residents and to each other? Are requests for assistance timely?
✓ Is the administrator or appropriate staff person generally available to answer questions or discuss problems, and would you be comfortable dealing with them on a daily basis?
✓ What is the staff to resident ratio?
✓ What is the staff retention/turnover rate?
✓ The Village at Gordon House staff years of service:
Thomas May Jr., Administrator 28 years
Barbara Miller, Director of Resident Care 26 years
Roberta Smith, Certified Nursing Assistant 26 years
Lillian Shumake, Cook 25 years
Linda Lewis Dietary Aide 21 years
✓ Does the residence provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days per week and how does the menu vary from meal to meal?
✓ What about special diets?
✓ May residents request special foods?
✓ Are common dining areas available and when are residents allowed to eat meals in their rooms?
✓ Does the dining room environment encourage residents to relax, socialize, and enjoy food?
✓ Are meals provided only at set times or is there some flexibility? Are snacks available?
✓ How many meals are included in the fee? If a resident becomes ill, is tray service available?
✓ Can residents have guests dine with them for an additional fee? Is there a private room for special events and occasions if desired?
Licensure & Certification
✓ Does the residence have a license/certification and is it displayed?
✓ If the state requires the administrator to be licensed/certified, does she/he have a license/certification?
✓ Is the facility a member of a trade or professional association?
✓ What reputation does the facility have in the community? How long has it been in business?
Secure Alzheimer’s / Dementia Unit Checklist
✓ What is the best noise level? A low noise level is best for Alzheimer’s/Dementia residents because their senses are easily overloaded.
✓ Is the Alzheimer’s/Dementia unit physically separate from the rest of the facility? These residents have different needs and greatly benefit from an environment that best suit their needs.
✓ Have adequate measures been taken to ensure that wanderers cannot leave the unit or the facility undetected? Are exit doors locked or do residents wear alarm-activating bracelets? If exit doors are locked, are adequate procedures in place to allow for an orderly evacuation in case of an emergency?
✓ Is the unit small and home-like, or large and institutional? Smaller homelike units are preferable. Residents with Alzheimer’s/Dementia become easily confused in institutional settings where everything looks the same.
✓ Is light used as a cue to help residents know the time of day? Bright lights should be used during daylight and low lights at night.
✓ Are visual cues used to help residents orient themselves? Cues include color. Patterns can confuse people with Alzheimer’s/Dementia, so color schemes should be soothing and simple. Signs or boards can help orient residents by including information indicating the daily schedule and the season.
✓ Memory Boxes: These containers display old photos and mementos to help residents identify their rooms. Alzheimer’s and Dementia often impair short-term memory but leave long-term memory intact. Residents may not recognize themselves in the mirror but would recognize photos of themselves in their youth.
✓ Large Clocks. These help resident orient themselves to the time of day.
✓ What is the staff to resident ratios? Is there sufficient staff available at all times to meet the needs of the resident? Alzheimer’s/Dementia Units should be staffed at a high ratio.
✓ What is the difference in training for staff on the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Unit? Is there someone on staff who is able to provide the specialized training? How many hours of continuing education has staff received throughout the year?
✓ How do services in the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Unit differ from services in the rest of the facility? What special services are provided for residents with Alzheimer’s/Dementia?
✓ How does the facility insure that residents get proper nutrition? Are finger foods available? Are decaffeinated beverages available throughout the day? Are snacks available at anytime? Are there flexible meal times?
✓ Does the staff react appropriately to behavioral issues? Examples: tearful, combative, accusatory, asking repetitive questions – whatever behavior your loved one tends to exhibit.
✓ What is the facility’s policy on restraints, both chemical and physical?
✓ If a family member desires a semi-private room for their loved one does the facility take into account the roommates’ habits or mannerisms that would be difficult for the prospective resident to handle? Examples: staying up late at night, yelling, going through personal possessions of theirs. What does the facility do when problems such as these arise?
✓ Are smaller, separate rooms designated for activities, as opposed to large communal spaces? Residents can become disoriented in big rooms with multiple activities.
✓ What activities are arranged for residents with memory impairment?
✓ Are residents encouraged to remain continent? Are they reminded to use the bathroom? Is a regular schedule in place?
Have Your Own Question?
Our team of friendly, knowledgeable staff is here for you! Please contact us or schedule a visit.
Come see how our unique, “boutique” approach to elder care breaks the institutional mold. Our small size, high staff ratio, and focus on the individual are just some of the things that set us apart. Schedule a tour or stop by today – visitors are always welcome.