The best way can be to make sure you are informed about each home you are considering. First it is great to have access to the internet so you may gather details about homes in your area, their basic information, rates, amenities, history, even photos of the homes and their surroundings. Also you will want to make a list so that you can collect that information about each home you are looking at and have it available when finally making that important choice. You can fill out the list from the facts you gather on the web, but also take it along when you visit the homes in your search. Obviously it is very important to visit each home you are considering.
So here are some tips on conducting your search and suggestions for some of the information you will want to collect.
1. Determine The Needs Of You Or Your Loved One
What are the needs which must be provided by the home? This is a question that should be answered first. If a home does not meet those needs it will not be placed on a list of homes you will consider. Needs may depend on your loved ones level of independence, health care needs, even budget and payment option requirements. Many of these questions are answered on websites such as Senior Home Search. But do not neglect calling the homes as well.
To determine needs you may ask some questions: Does your loved one require help with Activities of Daily Living - ADLs? Do they need help with dressing themselves, taking a shower, and going to the bathroom, preparing meals, taking their medications, etc.? Are there memory issues – dementia or Alzheimers disease? Some homes will not accept someone with memory issues while others specialize in and/or are licensed for memory care.
2. Make a List of Homes
Once you have determined what needs must be provided by a prospective home, make a list of all of the homes that address those needs and are in a location that will be as convenient as possible to as many of those as will be regular visitors or responsible for monitoring your loved ones care. This will no doubt include family and also friends who are active in their care.
How many homes will be on this list depends on you, as you will be doing quite a bit of homework in order to find the best possible fit. Many people will work with a list of at least 3 or 4 homes that fill their needs. As discussed these needs will include 1) Location 2) Budget and 3) Required Care.
3. Visit Each Home / Facility on Your List
Most if not all of us would never consider buying a home or renting an apartment without first visiting. Likewise, each home on your list should be visited, allowing sufficient time to get a thorough understanding of the home, its staff and how it is operated. In many cases, especially with smaller homes, you will be meeting with the owner. Be sure to have your checklist and questions handy on your visits.
4. Ask the Right Questions
Whether during your visit or on the phone, you should be prepared with the right questions to ask about the home. This is important to ensure your search for the best possible home and environment for your loved one is a success. Your questions should be designed to help you understand clearly the services, programs and processes the care home has in place. Your questions may include:
- What is the ratio of caregivers to residents on every shift?
- Does the staff undergo a background check before employment?
- How will you meet my loved ones needs?
- How often are visitors allowed? Are visitors allowed anytime?
- Is the staff provided with ongoing training? Is the staff monitored to assure proper behavior and job performance?
- What are the state requirements and the homes requirements to be hired to provide care?
- What safety guidelines are in place at the home?
These are just a few examples of questions that should be answered clearly and in a detailed manor by the home/facility operator. You will no doubt want to add others you feel are important. And do not be afraid to write down the answers provided while on your visit.
5. Be Thorough When Visiting Each Home
When you visit each care home, make sure you inspect the facility thoroughly noting things that are good about it, and also any red flags which may turn up. Does the home or facility make you feel welcomed? Does it smell good like it was just cleaned or does it smell like urine?
Do you see licensing certificates posted in plain view? Do they have photos of the residents’ celebrations? Do they visibly display their food menu or schedule of activities? Are the residents just sleeping in their room during the day or are they staying active? Are the bathrooms and inside the refrigerators clean? Does it look like they pay attention to detail at the facility?
You can see that a very thorough inspection will take some time, but is extremely important. Your loved one may be living there one day!
6. Talk to the Residents
Are the residents living in the home sociable? How do they interact with one another? Do they look well groomed? Are they happy? Are their alert levels similar to that of your Loved One? In case the residents are not alert, it does not mean the care facility is a bad home. It could mean that the particular home or community specializes in dementia residents. Make sure to find out from the staff and owner the condition of the residents before you visit to help save you time.
And it is important to talk to the residents and try to determine if they would get along with your Loved One.
7. Talk to the Owner and the Caregivers
Does the Owner and each Caregiver at the home during your visit seem friendly and welcoming? Do they rush you off or do they take time to answer your questions. Do they seem to want to understand your Loved One’s needs? How do the staff and caregivers interact with the residents? Do they seem like they care? Observe them and do not hesitate to take notes.
8. Get All the Facts
Preferably before your visit, you should check on the Facility’s Licensing Records and get testimonials from the other residents’ families that are staying there now or that have stayed there in the past. Check with the neighbors to see if there have been any reported problems inside or outside of the home or facility.
If you want a thorough report, a great place to start checking on the care facility is with State Licensing board or department. Each care home and community is licensed by the State and they keep on file all of the write-ups or citations each facility has received since it opened.
Minor citations are common such as administration write-ups. However, major citations noted by the State inspector are something worth learning more about in detail. If a care facility has a major citation, it is worth getting more information from the State and even bringing it to the attention of the care homeowner or management staff for an explanation. It may turn out to be a reason to remove that home from your list.
You may also check to see if the home is rated online at sites other than the States website. Do your research and check online reviews and ratings for the facilities you are considering. Be sure to also check the Better Business Bureau rating and look for complaints and even compliments from the residents or their families.
9. Take All The Time You Need!
The more time you have to research each home on your list, the better it is for you and your Loved One. The home you and your family choose should be the best you can find. This is a most important decision and deserves as much time as needed.
Keep in mind that good, excelling care homes and communities will many times stay full with no vacancies. When a vacancy does become available, due to their popularity and reputation, they fill their opening up very quickly.
It can be difficult lining up a good care home just when it has an opening And it is the time when your Loved One is in need of care. If you already visited homes but your Loved One is not ready, it might be a good idea to see if you can go on the care facilities wait lists.
Summary and Conclusion
Selecting the right senior care home for you or your Loved One is a very important task. A good – well thought out choice is important in order to avoid having to move your Loved One from one care facility to another due to unforeseen problems or issues. Such moves can be very difficult for your Loved One and place them under a lot of stress.
The initial move to an assisted living care home or community is already going to be a big adjustment so you want to make sure that you choose carefully. You can use these tips to help increase your chances of success in finding the right home.