Guest Author Mike Coury, Ph.D.: How do you Evaluate an Assisted Living Community?

mike couryMichael J. (“Mike”) Coury, Ph.D. is a Placement Counselor and Owner with Assisted Transition of Southeast Oakland County Michigan.  Mike holds a doctorate in Sociology from Boston University.  He has been trained in understanding human needs and behaviors.  In addition, he has developed an expertise in aging and gerontology and is a Certified Senior Advisor.

You’ve decided: it’s time for assisted living.  Your aging senior loved one requires assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, or managing medications.  So what should you look for when seeking assisted living?

One of the best options available is to engage the services of a professional who has knowledge and familiarity with a wide range of communities and facilities.  They will take on the stress, time and research for you.

But if you feel you must go it alone, the following suggestions and questions may help with your decision.

Take a look around.

  • Do you like the neighborhood location and the outside appearance of the buildings?
  • Is the atmosphere inside attractive, warm, and home-like?
  • Does the staff show personal attention to the residents, call them by name, make eye contact, and check on their comfort and wants?
  • Do the residents appear happy and comfortable?  Do they interact well with one another?

Inspect the physical environment.

  • Is the building free of foul odors?  Is the atmosphere clean and inviting?
  • Does the overall design of the community seem to meet the residents’ needs?
  • Are all the doorways, halls, and rooms large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Does the building have handrails along the walls?
  • Be aware of  loose carpeting, raised door thresholds, and other tripping hazards.

Ask about medication and health services.

  • Who provides and administers residents’ medication?
  • Do physicians, specialists, nurses, and other health professionals visit the community regularly?  Which services are available on-site?
  • Who provides medical services as they are needed?

Features and services.

  • Is help available 24/7 or is the assistance limited to specific appointments and times?
  • Are the rooms private, shared, or a combination of both?
  • How do costs differ for each type of room?
  • Do the rooms have private or shared bathrooms?
  • Are the showers wheelchair accessible?  Do they have enough grab rails and proper seating?
  • What types of housekeeping services are provided and how often?
  • Does the community allow residents to have pets?  What restrictions to they place on pets?
  • Is smoking allowed and where?
  • Will your loved one be able to stay in the community if their care needs increase over time?
  • Does the community provide transportation if needed?

Food service and meals.

  • Are full kitchens provided for residents to use?
  • How many meals does the community provide daily?  Are snacks available between meals?  How flexible are the serving times for meals and snacks?
  • How attractive and inviting are the common dining areas?
  • Are residents allowed to eat in their own apartments or rooms?

Costs and finances.

  • Does the community require a contract for services, care, room & board, and all fees?
  • Does the community offer a month-to-month arrangement, or does it require signing a longer term agreement?
  • What are the refund policies if the resident wishes to move out or passes away?
  • Do the billing and payment policies seem fair and reasonable?

Working with a Professional.

As mentioned above, referral counselors are well versed in all of these aspects of assisted living decision points.  They are always at the ready to ensure that your questions and concerns are addressed.  It is their job to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe and comfortable with your choice, whatever it may be.  The counselors at Assisted Transition are ready, willing, and able to take on your care management burden and let you return to being a loving, caring relative once again.