How can I prescreen assisted-living facilities so I don't have to tour every one?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother is being released from the hospital soon, and I need to find an assisted-living home for her. Between working, taking care of my kids, and visiting my mom, I don't have time to tour every choice in my area. What are some easy ways I can prescreen facilities to narrow down the number of tours I need to go on?

Expert Answers

Anita Silverman is a geriatric care manager in Lake Worth, Florida.

Start by asking your local Area Agency on Aging for a list of the facilities in your area. Once you have your list, call your local ombudsman for long-term care and ask if complaints have been filed against any of the facilities. Not all ombudsman programs will supply this information, but it's worth a call to find out.

Next, determine your price range so you can eliminate those homes that are beyond your budget.

Spend some time browsing the websites of any assisted living facilities that seem like possibilities. This takes some time, yes, but it's something you can do on your lunch break or after the kids are in bed.

Many sites include a floor plan or an online tour. Look at the layout and think about your mom's mobility. If she uses a walker, is the home too big or spread out? If she has always loved lots of open space, is it too crowded or too compact? Is the facility located close enough to family or friends? To your mom's doctor? If the location seems inconvenient, scratch that facility off your list.

You can usually look at the activity calendar online, too. Does the facility have lectures, occasional parties, or hobbies that would interest your mother? Is there a van that provides transport to local houses of worship or other events? Think about your mom's personality: how much stimulation does she need?

If you're really short on time, another time-saver is to hire a geriatric care manager who's familiar with the price ranges, amenities, and staff of all the local facilities. A care manager, who usually charges between $60 and $150 per hour, will talk to you and your mom about what you're looking for and what you can pay, and will then find the best options for you to visit in person.

Keep in mind that you really can't pick a place sight unseen. The point of all this initial research is to settle on a minimum of three places to tour. Seeing a facility in person will give you a much better picture of the staff's personalities, the daily routine, the ambience, and how content the residents seem to be.


Community Answers

Ltc-continuum answered...

What ever city you are in enter that into Google and add Placement referral service. It would read Las Vegas Senior Placements, or Senior placements Las Vegas. That should bring up agencies that can do the leg work for you. If you need California or Nevada my site has the homes listed with photos. I am just a handful of agencies that do that. Another is Moonlite Transitions in Sacramento Caifornia.

Susanpe answered...

I would just add to the above that it is good to visit not only in the daytime when someone can give you a tour, but also ask to taste the food, and visit at night. Sometimes, their staff level decreases significantly at night. I've talked with nurses that had to handle whole wards of patients by themselves. Because of that, if someone needed pain medication or help, they don't always get the help they need because the nurse is overwhelmed in getting everyone their medications, which means waking the last ones up just to give them their medications. Those facilities are the ones you don't want you parent going to, because the patients don't get the care they really need. Talk to the nurses that handle the patients without the administrators there. Ask them if they have a sufficient amount of staff on duty 24/7 to take care of the patients. Also, make sure you are present at the intake. My sister was at the intake with the head nurse, and she didn't tell them that mom couldn't see very well or eat regular food because she didn't have teeth, as a result when I walked in I saw a tray of food just left in front of her, and because she couldn't see it or eat regular food, she just didn't eat, and the staff there didn't check into WHY she didn't eat. My mom also couldn't hear very well, so when they talked with her, she just nodded to everything. I contacted the administrator right then and let him know how unhappy I was with their care. They called in the head nurse, too. He made sure her records were changed to reflect the above, and give her appropriate food, AND that she needed assistance to eat. I hope this helps you. Also, once your loved one in there, come visit at different times. Once staff knows that you will be coming regularly, but don't know when, you'd be surprised at how much better care your mother will get. I hate to say that complaining helps, but it really does. You're your mom's only advocate. She needs you now more than ever. My mom seemed to know I was there even when she was sleeping. She recovered fast, and I think it was because I visited so often and was there to help her. Love heals.