By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer
Some general questions to
ask each place can include:
Location - is the facility conveniently located
to where you live? Will it be easy for you to get to in order to
visit? Is public transportation available nearby?
Appearance/Atmosphere - are the
kitchen, day rooms and bedrooms clean? Is there good
natural and artificial lighting? How is the
temperature? Are there any unpleasant odors?
Does the facility meet your standards of
cleanliness? Is the facility wheelchair and
walker friendly? Are there handrails to help with
Menus - is the menu varied and
nutritious? Will the facility accommodate special
dietary needs? Is food available throughout the day?
Are people allowed to snack? Are mealtimes flexible
and varied? How is the food? Visit facilities at
mealtime. Does the food look appetizing? Do
residents appear to be enjoying their meals? Is
there adequate assistance and supervision for those
residents who need it? Ask if you can sample the
food. What do you think of it?
Bathrooms - are they private? Are they
clean? Are they easy to find? Are they close to
where your loved one will be? Do they have grab bars
and other safety devices installed?
Alzheimer’s-friendly – if your
loved one has Alzheimer’s, is the staff specially
trained to care for someone with this condition or
other forms of dementia? Is there a separate unit
for Alzheimer’s residents? Are Alzheimer residents
able to wander safely indoors and outside?
Resident-to-staff ratio - What
is the resident-to-staff ratio? How many residents
have Alzheimer’s disease? Does the staff provide
enough care throughout the disease process, no
matter what the disease and/or condition?
Interaction - do all staff
interact with residents on a regular basis, and in a
friendly and personable manner?
Activities – are there meaningful activities for
groups and individuals? Are there therapeutic
activities, like music, pet, or plant therapy? Are
there opportunities for your loved one to socialize?
Are the routines flexible and offer variety?
Visiting – when are you allowed
to visit? Can you have privacy with the resident
when visiting? Can you take the resident on outings,
such as to a park, a restaurant, or to a family
Behavior Management - how are
different types of behaviors handled? Are restraints
used? (Physical restraints like straps, chemical
restraints like sedatives, or restraints to the
environment, like a locked door.) Don’t be afraid to
ask what portion of the residents has to be
“medicated” or have to have physical restraints;
also, try noticing these things yourself.
Safety - are there smoke
detectors? Are there slip-proof mats in the baths,
grab rails, bed rails,etc.?Medical Care - can you
continue to use members of your loved one’s
healthcare team? Is there a doctor always available
or on call in case of emergencies? How often does a
doctor visit? Can you meet the doctor?
Philosophy of Care - does the
facility focus on the needs of the individual
resident? Can flexibility in routines be
accommodated? Are there regular care planning
meetings regarding your loved one? Will these
meetings include you and other family members as
Individualized Care - is
consideration given to individual cultural,
religious or spiritual needs? Are other languages
spoken? Is the facility “home-like”?
Atmosphere - what is the
atmosphere like? Are residents up and about? Are
they socializing with one another? Is the staff
actively engaged with residents? Does staff
treat residents with respect?
Outdoor Areas - is there a nice
spacious outdoor area for residents? Is there
a covered outdoor area in case of rain?
Another great way to obtain information is to
speak directly to the residents. Ask them how they
like living there, and let them know that you are
considering the facility for a family member.
facilities may offer an opportunity for you to speak
with residents in a more private setting, enabling
you to get more candid answers and information. You
may find residents at smaller facilities to be a
little less comfortable speaking about their
experiences, since they have less privacy; if this
is the case, don’t push the issue. After you’ve had
the “official” tour, you may want to walk around the
facility by yourself, unaccompanied. Just remember
not to enter any of the residents’ rooms or areas
without receiving permission first.
When making your final decision, take into
consideration not only the services your loved one
will need right now, but what they may need in the
way of care further down the line. Make sure the
facility you decide upon has services that you may
also need in the future.
Before making your
decision, carefully review the entire admissions
packet, especially the section that covers fees and
services with a complete schedule. Will Medicare be
accepted? Will Medicare be willing to cover the
chosen facility? Will Medicaid be accepted if
personal funds run out? Even after doing all your
homework and visiting several facilities, you may
not find exactly what you’re looking for; however,
keep your options open and flexible. You can help
promote quality-of-care for your loved one by
staying actively connected to them as much as
possible, no matter what type of facility is decided