We chose VIP sight unseen since we live 1,000 miles away. We did a lot of research including reading online reviews, exchanging emails and conversing by phone with a staff representative, and as a result our father entered VIP. The first time we visited Dad we were greatly disappointed. Because the gates and doors are locked for the residents’ security, it felt like we were entering a minimum security prison. The walls were painted a Pepto-Bismol pink and the “skylights” letting in the only natural light were about 15 feet above eye level, allowing no one to see out. One literally could not tell whether it was day or night, which was depressing; the residents suffering from dementia need natural light. Dad’s double occupancy room was tiny, with two twin beds, a night table between them, and an armoire for each resident. His bathroom across the hall was shared by everyone on that side of the wing, probably 10-12 men! There was little visual stimulation in the place such as generation-appropriate displays or paintings, or anything colorful on the dining tables. There were two large community rooms: one, a dining area where those who could feed themselves were seated with those who needed assistance, and the other filled with large recliners and a wall-mounted television. After lunch residents were led to the chairs and covered up for a nap. There seemed to be no craft or other activities on any of the days we visited. In Dad’s wing of the facility (there are three), most residents were in one of the two rooms either lined up in their wheelchairs or in the recliners sleeping. Except in his tiny bedroom or going outside to the small fenced-in patio, the only other place to “visit” with Dad was in the community room with everyone else.
Dad’s clothes and personal property were not well maintained. Although we were told that all of his clothing would be labeled, what we actually saw was his first name only written in marker on some but not all of his clothes. Since moving to his current facility we discovered a ripped shirt and a badly stained shirt that had to be thrown away, and several missing clothing and personal items. On frequent family visits it was found that Dad frequently was sockless.
Although we desired notification regarding Dad’s doctor visits/diagnoses and his overall condition while at VIP, we do not feel that we were apprised of situations (good or bad) as they arose. We needed to make a specific request to be informed of any incidents or changes to Dad’s health or behaviors. Even after the request we were sporadically informed of news and the director was often condescending. Communication with management seemed great before Dad moved there, but basically disappeared once he actually arrived. Often when we called we were told Dad was doing great except for some inappropriate behaviors, yet no one offered recommendations on how to help him; instead it seemed like they were letting us know they were caring for him “in spite of” his behaviors. He has dementia and was evaluated before entry, so we expected appropriate corrective supervision.
Additionally, while we were told that the website was current, we have subsequently learned that is not 100% the case. We saw little resident stimulation that impressed us—few activities, mediocre meals, and a staff which seemed too busy to engage him. Caution should always be taken when placing a loved one with dementia in an assisted living facility. Thoroughly investigate VIP before selecting it as your facility of choice.