Assisted living homes are a great choice for older adults who need help with some or most of their daily activities. These facilities have professionals to help with things like getting to the bathroom, housekeeping, cooking meals, laundry, and transport to appointments. They also offer round-the-clock safety and security to ensure all residents are okay. But not all homes are created equal. How can you tell when assisted living homes are well-run?
There are approximately 28,900 assisted living homes in America, but no two facilities have the same level of service as the other. Some are clearly better than others. So, it is completely understandable to worry about whether the one you've enrolled your loved one in is efficient or not. In this article, we'll tell you how to know when assisted living homes are well run, to help put your mind at ease, knowing your loved one will be well taken care of.
The residents have a better quality of life
The decision to transition to an assisted living home is often based on a need for additional care and support with daily activities. However, finding a facility that meets the basic needs is only the first step. A well-run facility also pays more attention to the overall quality of life of every resident. It doesn't compromise on aspects that improve the quality of life. These include encouraging physical activity, inspiring social interaction, fostering independence and a sense of purpose and nurturing spirituality. While it might be hard to measure, these aspects are critical in determining if an assisted living facility is well planned.
The facility exceeds the minimum requirement
You may be pleased with the fact that an assisted living amenity provides round-the-clock staffing, grocery shopping, health care support, transportation, laundry, and housekeeping services. But these are only minimum requirements. The best-assisted living environment goes beyond the basics. As mentioned above, they offer opportunities to chase new hobbies and creativity and promote social interaction. Most importantly, they evaluate and adjust the residents’ needs from time to time.
It hires a qualified and passionate team of caregivers
One of the best ways to tell a well-run assisted living home apart is by looking at its staff's quality. A well-run facility will invest in quality staff. It will only hire qualified personal care assistants, nurses, administrators, directors, and coordinators who are passionate about their jobs. A qualified team can maintain senior independence, provide companionship, decrease senior loneliness, offer insight and detect changes in a senior's condition.
The facility has adequate staff
A well-run home should have a reasonable staff-to-resident ratio. It should also have registered nurses on-campus, as opposed to simply on-call. Adequate nurse staffing is essential when it comes to the quality of assisted living care. Unless a facility has sufficient staff to offer high-level quality care, your senior loved one may not get the attention he or she needs and deserves. Luckily, you can easily tell when an assisted living home is understaffed. It will feel chaotic each time you visit. There will be little-to-no coordination and the staff may always seem to have bad attitudes. You may also notice that the staff only talks among themselves as opposed to mingling with residents. Or that information gets lost between shift changes. All these are red flags of bad care.
It has a low staff turnover
Staff turnover is an unfortunate reality that many senior care facilities face from time to time. But a good facility will have only a few people leaving at any given point. In most cases, you'll still find a staff that truly knows your loved one. Bad facilities tend to have high staff turnover, to the extent you may notice that no one on staff even knows who your loved one is. Unfortunately, your elderly family member won't get quality care when the staff-resident pairing is not consistent.
The facility is determined to answer all your questions
In addition to staffing, you can tell a well-run facility by looking at how well they respond to your questions and concerns. The fact that they are responsible for the older adults means they are better placed to answer questions about their care. A well-managed facility will always have the right answers for things that happen within their premise; answers that put your mind to rest. They shouldn't say things like, "Old people do this all the time" when you ask why your mom is losing weight. Or “I don't know, but I'll find out,” when you’re concerned about the state of her personal hygiene.
It tailors services to meet the needs of an individual
Although assisted living homes must be suited for a resident's specific health status – like physical therapy for individuals with walking problems or medications for chronic conditions – residents are more than just their health status. They are your family members, mothers, fathers, siblings. A truly well-run facility will consider a person's interests, physical and mental health, need for social interactions, etc. So they'll hire mental health experts and also include social clubs and other support groups. A well-run facility tailors solutions to the resident's unique needs. And since these needs might change, the facility should also have structures in place to adjust to the emotional, physical, and social needs that arise.
They answers calls
Well-run assisted living homes will always pick up the phone. So, in most cases, your loved one won't have to wait a long time after pushing the call button. You can easily know how fast they are by putting the light on and watching out for delay. See if it happens all the time or at a specific time of day – like during mealtime or shift change. Then bring up your concern to staff and observe how they handle it. It should be concerning if your loved one has to wait for a long time before getting help. And it's even worse if they have to do things by themselves because they couldn't wait any longer.
It is keen on nurturing relationships
Most residents in assisted living homes seek long-term care. Unfortunately, this might mean spending less time with friends and family members. Well-run facilities understand how hard this can be. So, a good home will go all-out promoting social activities. They also strive to build bonds between residents and their loved ones. They not only have amazing visitation policies but vast communication options. On top of that, they include vast social activities, like gardening, exercise, art or cooking classes, bridge league, and weekly game nights. Anything that gets the seniors to interact is a big plus.
Assisted living is like home health care as it covers activities of daily living. The only difference is that the senior relocates from his or her home to a new place. Ensuring that the facility is well-run is the best way to ascertain that your loved one is as comfortable as they’d be if they were home.
Sheri Bruemmer is a seasoned industry expert with expertise in growing and managing operations that support assisted living, adult foster care, and homes for the aged communities. Sheri is a certified Gerontologist, licensed Assisted Living Director, and licensed nurse as well.