What to Look For
We’re often asked what to look for when touring care homes/communities for a loved one. Having us accompany you is very helpful to see the many nuances to each situation, care home or community that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Here are some considerations:
1. You should be greeted warmly by someone who is clearly in charge.
With larger facilities (Assisted Living), this isn’t usually an issue as the company hires professional staff to be at the community throughout business hours. In smaller care homes, we want to see that a licensee or administrator is there most of the time, supervising the home. Oftentimes in these smaller homes, the licensee &/or administrator also does hands on care, which is great!
2. The residents should look happy, or content, and be as engaged as possible.
Residents lined up in front of a television for long periods of time is not something we’d like to see. Ideally, they should have opportunities to participate in social activities, be outside, or conversing with one another or staff.
3. They should be similar in mental awareness to your loved one.
This is important because its frustrating for someone with higher mental acuity to be with others who are consistently confused, or repetitive. Their quality of life depends upon their ability to have others with whom they have things in common, including mental capacity.
4. The facility should be clean and uncluttered.
With the number of people in a group setting, cleanliness and order become increasingly important, both for health, as well as the emotional well being of everyone residing and working there.
5. Its very important that the staff look happy as well.
We believe the happiness of the staff has a direct impact on the happiness of the residents of the home or community. If staff is being treated with care and respect, its very likely, they will feel good about themselves and their duties. It takes a very special person to be a caregiver, compensation alone isn’t enough to be effective.
6. The residents should be clean and well groomed
This speaks to the care and concern a home or community has for those in its care. We all feel better, even if we’re not feeling well, when we’re bathed, and dressed for the day.
7. There should be a menu posted with meals that look appealing
Food takes on tremendous importance when residing in a home or community. For many, its the highlight of their days. Look for menus that are healthy, creative, and visually appetizing. Nourishment is critical to wellbeing always, but especially as we age.
8. If possible, speak to other family members about their experience.
If you have an opportunity to talk to family members when you tour, you should do so! Its a great way to get a sense of day to day life at a home or community. You could also ask for references.
9. Find out what the staff to resident ratios are, including at night.
In many ways, this is what sets homes or communities apart from one another. If your loved one has more serious medical issues, has dementia/Alzheimer’s, or is on hospice, its critical that there is sufficient staff to meet their needs. They may very well require that there is awake night staff, which usually increases the amount of rent that will be paid.
10. Activities and outings should also be posted, and adequate to meet
your loved ones needs for socialization and stimulation.
This cannot be stressed enough! We want to see enthusiastic activities leaders who are committed to creativity, engagement, and movement.
11. There should be inviting outside areas with easy access.
Weather permitting, there is nothing better than being outside, hopefully in a garden, or beautiful space. Breathing fresh air, hearing the birds sing, walking, or just sitting to enjoy nature is wonderful medicine!
12. You’ll want to make sure the RCFE is in compliance with state licensing
This is where we come in. We will check with Community Care Licensing prior to any placement to make sure a care home or community is in compliance with regulations. Whether a minor issue a home/community is working through, or something more serious, we will inform you so you can factor it in to your decision.
13. Any additional costs that could arise should be clearly stated.
There can be numerous additional costs for care, as well as potential for them down the road. Its important that they all be spelled out in the contract so that you can budget, and aren’t surprised later.
14. Staff should be able to communicate clearly, and appropriately.
There are many cultures represented in staff at care homes and communities. Its important that our elders can understand and be understood, and that there are no language barriers to that. Also, that the level of affection, or terms of endearment be appropriate and comfortable to your loved one.
15. Trust your instincts.
Oftentimes, you will walk into a care home or community and feel at home. Or not! It may be a perfectly wonderful place for someone else, but you just don’t feel its a good fit. Its a big decision, we urge you to go with what feels right for you and your loved one.
If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry, we’re here to help! We’ll be with you every step of the way!