When the decision is made about the need for Assisted Living or a Nursing Care Facility for a loved one we often find ourselves in new territory and needing guidance as well as support in finding the right place.

There are many things to consider when choosing a specific facility for your loved one...
  • Start with your loved one in mind. It is important to remember that each individual is unique and has different needs, wants and preferences that should be considered in the selection of a facility. The facility's ability and willingness to see your loved one as an individual is a very important indicator.
  • Visit many facilities and choose only a licensed/accredited one with a good reputation of providing quality care.
  • Is the facility certified to provide Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage? Is the latest state survey report available for review?
  • What is your access to the Administrator and Director of Nursing? Ask to meet them. How were you received? Ask how they address problems and seek solutions?
  • Evaluate the cost and what your get for it. Are all the services the resident requires covered in the basic charge? Request a list of specific services not covered in the basic rate. Some facilities cover some treatments, beautician services, barbers, personal laundry, etc.
Social Programming and Daily Life:
  • Visitors are important! Is the facility conveniently located for frequent visits from family and friends?
  • Is the facility clean and odor free? Is the facility welcoming and attractive?
  • Pay close attention to the staff interactions with the residents. Do they show respect and a positive attitude toward residents as well as visitors? Are the residents smiling and participating?
  • What is going on! Are there enjoyable activities underway? Check out the weekly/monthly "activity calendar" and ask about the programs available. How are residents encouraged to participate? Are family members welcome to attend and participate?
  • Are religious services held on the premises? What individualized arrangements can be made for residents to worship?
  • Look at several rooms. Does the living space suit the needs of your loved one? A big decision will be private room or roommate. At first blush a private room seems preferable; however, many residents enjoy the company of another to pass the day with. How are roommates selected? How are private items stored or secured? You should have a private telephone and freedom to decorate the room with personal items.
  • Have a meal in the Dining Room. Did you like the food? How is the menu prepared and how often is it changed? Do residents have any influence on the menu? How are meals served when residents are unable to eat in the dining room? What about special diets? What are the snacks and when are they served? Can you have private events (catering) when family and friends are visiting?
  • What are the resident's rights and responsibilities? Is there a Resident's Council? Does the facility have a Family Council in which you can participate?
Clinical Care & Expertise:
  • Is there a Medical Director who provides direct care to the residents? How can you communicate with him/her? What are the costs?
  • Are medical professionals such as podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, etc. available in the facility? How do you gain access to them? What are the costs?
  • Does the facility have a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital? Will they hold the bed if your loved one goes to the hospital for a short stay? What are the costs?
  • How are prescription drugs ordered? What are the costs?
  • How are the physical, occupational, speech therapy programs provided?
  • How are residents and families encouraged to participate in care planning?
  • What special programs (Alzheimer's, sub-acute care) are offered?
  • Does the facility provide services for terminally ill residents and families? Hospice Services?

Finally, Assisted Living and Nursing Care Facilities should try to be like a true community. The one you choose should be a place where residents and their families feel safe, comfortable and can build relationships like they enjoyed in their own homes. When you take the time and effort to research and plan ahead, you can better predict that your loved one, and you, will find the "right place" for the next stage of life. And this stage, like the others, will have triumphs, challenges, friendships and memories alongside skilled and caring people who are committed to providing the highest quality of life and service possible.

There are individuals who are skilled at assisting in this decision making process and working through the issues related to moving a loved one to Assisted Living or Long term Care:
  • Medical Social Workers at your local hospital
  • Your loved one’s Physician and Medical Team
  • Home Care Nurses and Social Workers if your receive Home Care
  • Community Care Managers (Paid Service)
  • Friends who have experienced a similar need for their loved ones
  • Ask your Minister/Clergy as they visit all the long term care facilities in your area

Featured Partners & Friends

Given the many crucial issues surrounding the physical, mental, emotional, and lifestyle demands associated with caregiving, it’s important for families to be aware of where to go for answers, support, and encouragement.

AARP

Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for the Home Caregiver
by Peter Rabins, M.D., MPH, and Ann Morrison, RN, Ph.D.

firstSTREET Online

Health Style Press

Lotsa Helping Hands

Meals on Wheels

National Alliance For Caregiving

National Area Agencies on Aging

United Health Care