For this article, let’s assume that you are certain that an assisted living facility is the best senior life transition choice for you or your loved ones. You have eliminated alternatives like in-home care and senior day care. Now, what are the things you should check out before choosing an assisted living facility?
Here is a brief checklist with some short explanations. Other articles at FindingAssistedLiving.com can give you more detailed, in depth information.
Is the assisted living facility licensed by your state?
This is an absolute, bottom line must! Remember that assisted living facilities are licensed by the state in which they are located, so there are 50 different sets of rules and standards. Whatever the location, ask to see the current license issued by that state. If the facility management cannot produce a current license, rule it out as a choice!
Is the assisted living facility licensed to provide the type of care needed?
Not all ALFs are capable of providing the types of services that may be needed. You should think carefully about the level of care that will be required now and in the foreseeable future. This may range from practically none for an independent living community, to full-time care, memory care and supervision, or even to hospice care.
Each state has its own system of licensing for different types of care and you should become familiar with your state’s regulations. In Florida, all assisted living facilities must have a standard license. This means that the ALF is approved to “provide direct physical assistance with, or the supervision of, activities of daily living, medications and other similar services.” This could mean various levels of help with dressing, bathing and other routine activities. Make sure that the proper level of help is available.
You or your loved one may need services beyond those provided by assisted living facilities with only a standard license. Check to see if the facility is licensed to provide services like “limited nursing services” (LNS), “limited mental health” (LMH) or special types of memory care. You may need advice from a physician, memory specialist or other professional to determine if this is needed.
What is the facility’s record with regulatory agencies?
Each state has a system for checking the performance of assisted living facilities. Investigate to see if the facility you are considering has been cited for any violations. In Florida, the state organization responsible for this is the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). You can find information about a facility’s licensure and violations (if any) at the AHCA website (http://ahca.myflorida.com/).
If there are any, how serious and how frequent are these violations? Even the most well-run and responsible assisted living facility can have an occasional lapse, but if there is a pattern of violations, citations or fines, that should be a warning flag. If you find these, discuss the situation with the management and be sure that the shortcomings have been corrected.
Make a list of your needs and expectations.
What services will you need? These may include some, most or all of these:
- living arrangements in a home-like setting
- nutritional meals, and special diets
- help with bathing, dressing, eating, walking, physical transfer
- help with medications
- health monitoring and health care services or transportation to health care services
- social and leisure activities
- memory care
- mental health services
Visit the facility yourself.
There is no substitute for a personal visit. This is the only way to be assured that the facility you are considering meets the needs and standards you require. You should probably visit several assisted living facilities and talk with both the staff and the residents. Determine if the staff is friendly and professional and whether the current residents are happy with the facility.
Obtain and study the contract and paperwork.
You will have to sign various papers and a contract before moving in. Ask for a copy of this paperwork when visiting a facility and take it home with you. Read the material at your leisure, share it with a friend or family member and make sure that you understand what you are agreeing to. Be sure that any problems are resolved before signing. Some common questions that may be covered in the contract are:
- What are the common areas such as the living room and dining room like?
- Is the facility pet-friendly?
- Can I choose my apartment or room, or is it assigned?
- Is it a private room or is it shared with another person?
- Is there a private bathroom?
- Is there a kitchen or kitchenette? What does it include?
Prepare for the move.
If moving to an assisted living facility is not an immediate necessity, this is the time to think ahead. Make an inventory of personal items like furniture, clothing and other possessions that you want to move with you if possible. Decide how you want to dispose of those items that are not to be moved.
Choosing the right assisted living facility is an important decision that may involve making medical, legal, financial and other critical choices that seem overwhelming. Many people do not have the time, the patience or the specialized knowledge required to deal with this challenge, but there is help. Finding Assisted Living and FindingAssistedLiving.com is prepared to help with every aspect of locating, comparing, vetting and choosing the right assisted living facility. FindingAssistedLiving.com exists to help seniors or their loved ones make the best choice for their situation anywhere in Florida. FAL can provide dependable, knowledgeable, unbiased advice on assisted living facilities, local providers of home health services and all other senior life transition challenges. If you are in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach Daytona Beach and or any other city in Florida feel free to call on us for advice you can trust.
Thank you for visiting the web site of FindingAssistedLiving.com. The information contained on this website is provided for educational and informational purposes only. The contents of this site are not and should not be construed as legal advice. The website is not an offer to perform services on any matter. This website contains general information from a variety of sources and might not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. Please consult a professional such as an attorney and or CPA when taking these matters into consideration for you or loved one.