Prepare for Touring an Assisted Living Facility

Prepare for Touring an Assisted Living Facility

Preparing for a tour:

What should I bring with me?

When touring an assisted living facility for the consideration of a new living environment for you or a loved one, it is important to bring a comprehensive list of all the questions you want to ask while you are there. This is a huge, life-changing event and it is ok to ask as many questions as possible because you want to make sure you or your family member is entering a community that will meet all your or his/her needs. If the staff at the facility makes you feel rushed, or acts too busy to take the time and answer all of your questions, then it is probably not the right facility.

How many facilities should I see?

With the many options available for assisted living facilities it is important to see at least a few different places before making the decision of which one to choose. While the decision of how many to visit will depend greatly on the area you live and how many facilities are available; try to 2 or 3 different facilities at the very least. Since this is such an important transition in life, the more the better. It will give you a chance to see the different types of facilities and what they have to offer. Keep in mind, all assisted living communities are different, and just because one place offers certain amenities, this doesn't mean they all will offer the same amenities. This is why it is so important to get a list of all available services while you are at the facilities.

Questions to ask:

What would a typical day look like?

Lunch At Retirement HomeFind out what the typical day would entail. What times are the meals offered? Are there scheduled social activities and events daily? What time of the day do social events happen? How often and at what time is the room cleaned? What is the laundry schedule? If you or your loved one need medication management; what is the schedule for medications? Is security available 24 hours per day? How to call for help if additional help is needed? How much assistance is offered in terms of bathing, showering, going to the bathroom, etc.? How are emergency situations handled?

Who would I sit with at meals? Do I have to sit at the same table every day?

Meal time is going to be a major part of your day at an assisted living facility. It is important to find out about the dining room arrangements. Are there assigned tables in the dining hall? Do those table arrangements ever change or rotate? Where would a new person have to sit? Is there an option to eat in the room if desired? It is important to find out all this information beforehand, because you don’t want to have yourself or your loved one walk into a dining room full of new faces and not know where to go or with whom to sit.

What is the general age and health of other residents?

Many people enter into an assisted living facility with the hopes of meeting new people and making close friendships. If this is the case for you it is important to find out general information about the population of the facility. For instance, let’s say you are looking at a facility that offers more hands on care including bathing and bathroom assistance and the general age of the population is around 78 and overall health status for many isn't very good. You happen to be 67 years old and independent with your activities of daily living and in overall good general health, you may want to keep looking and find a facility with a younger group of residents that are in better health. Perhaps a facility that does not assist with matters such as bathing might draw a younger and healthier crowd similar to you.

What is the gender ratio?

This matters whether you or your family member is male or female. Women have for many years outlived men, and by the age of 100, the ratio is about 2:1. If a man is looking into transitioning into assisted living he may want to know whether there are any men at that facility and if so how many. Likewise, a woman looking into the assisted living would likely want to know if there are any men in the facility and if so how many, or if it is all female.

If applicable, can the facility accommodate a couple?

a geriatric nurse helps elderly woman at breakfastIn many circumstances a husband and wife decide to go into an assisted living together. Sometimes only one of the parties involved may have memory loss or health conditions that require the nursing services and facilities will only bill the couple for the services they need. In many facilities the person who doesn't need any nursing care or services will only be charged for room and board. The couple arrangements will vary depending on the facility in terms of amount of space offered, pricing, and so forth. If you are looking into this type of living arrangement it is important to explore all your options and check out more than one facility to see what they can offer.

If deemed safe, can I have my own car?

Yes, most assisted living facilities will allow you to keep your own vehicle as long as you have a valid driver’s license and are medically safe to drive. In fact, most of the time a reserved parking space and snow removal will be provided by the facility. Transportation services are usually provided and many people will find that the transportation may be an easier means of getting around. Another factor is cost. The transportation service provided by the facility is likely the more affordable option than maintenance costs and gasoline prices of having your own vehicle.

Are there amenities and activities I’d be interested in?

During your tour of the facility be sure to check out all amenities and activities that are offered. If you are after a busy and engaging social life be sure to look at the scheduled events and social activities to see if it is something that is going to interest you. Also be sure to check out all the amenities offered and see if everything meets your needs. If laundry is something you know that you are going to need assistance with be sure that the facility offers a laundry service. Most will provide services like this, but it is always important to double check.

Take note of:

Is there a reception desk or someone manning the entrance?

How is the security of the facility? Is there someone at the front of the building at all times? Is 24-hour security offered? Is there a receptionist ready to greet anyone that walks through the door? If so, what are the hours of the receptionist? One of the most important decisions in choosing the right facility for you or your loved one is to know it is a secure building. A facility that offers 24-hour security is going to be a very secure option.

How are the residents treated by the staff?

nurse showing care to patientPay attention to the rapport the staff members have with the residents of the facility. Does it seem genuine? Do the residents seem truly happy to talk with the staff members? Are the residents happy when the staff members come around? When they talk to each other does it seem like natural conversation? You can tell by the way the residents interact with the staff members if they have developed good relationships and if the residents seem happy to communicate with the staff.

Do the residents and staff members seem happy?

While amenities are important, the most important factor in whether or not you will enjoy the stay at the facility is the people you are going to be around and encounter on daily basis. In an environment where the people are genuinely happy you can feel a good spirit in the building. Are there meaningful interactions happening amongst the residents? How about the staff? Does the staff seem happy and interact well with one another?

Can you picture yourself living here?

During your tour of the facility picture yourself living there. Can you imagine yourself living in one of the rooms or eating in the dining room with the other residents? Can you picture yourself engaging in social activities with the other residents of the facility? Can you see yourself becoming friends with other residents of the community? If you are in a place that feels like it could easily be your next home, then you have probably found the right facility.

Leave with:

Monthly calendar of events

Take a calendar of events for the month when you leave the facility. When you go back home examine the calendar of events and think about yourself engaging in these activities with other members of the community. Do the activities listed appeal to you? Would you be interested in engaging with the other people you met at the facility?

Business card from the administrator and intake specialist

Even if you have not made up your mind whether or not this facility is a good fit for you bring the business card back home with you and give yourself some time to think about the decision. Then later on, if you do decide on that facility, or revisiting, you will have the contact information readily available.

Contributing Authors

Kelli Wilson, RN

Kelli is a Registered Nurse with over 19 years of experience in long term care nursing homes. Though the years she’s worked up to Assistant Director, and Director of Nursing. Kelli has been involved in admissions, discharges, and arranging home care. She’s also familiar with Medicare/Medicaid requirements and how to preform pre-authorizations.

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    James Conte, RN, BS Nursing, BS Pharmacology

    James is a Registered Nurse with a BS in Nursing, a BS in Pharmacology, and a BS in Electrical Engineering. He brings with him many years of experience working in Long Term Care facilities, and as a Registered Nurse in an Intensive Care Unit. His familiarity with nursing and emergency care provides an invaluable perspective on managed care.

    Latest posts by James Conte, RN, BS Nursing, BS Pharmacology (see all)

      Miranda Booher, RN, ACLS Certified, BLS Certified, Tx Certified

      Miranda’s strongest area of expertise is nursing. She has worked as a registered nurse for over 6 years with 4 years experience on a pediatrics and orthopedic surgical unit and 2 years as a travel nurse, working in critical care and healthcare informatics.

      Latest posts by Miranda Booher, RN, ACLS Certified, BLS Certified, Tx Certified (see all)

        Carolyn Falconer-Horne, Ph.D. Candidate

        Currently working towards her Ph.D., Carolyn is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist with over 15 years of experience working in rehab hospitals, long term care facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.

        Latest posts by Carolyn Falconer-Horne, Ph.D. Candidate (see all)

          Last modified: May 5, 2017