How to Hire for your Senior Living Community

Independent living is a common goal for older people and often they need care and comfort to lead healthy and happier lives. They need help with activities of daily living, like personal hygiene, safety supervision, ambulation, housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping, and medication reminder. In fact, this is part of the reason they join assisted living homes in the first place. Having the right care team is the best way to ensure these adults get the most out of their stay in your facility. But the right team doesn’t just happen. It starts from the people you hire to be part of your senior living community. And as you may already know, hiring caregivers is one of the biggest challenges many senior homes face.

Representatives from most facilities across the US cite caregiver shortage as their top concern, far ahead of other threats like increasing minimum wage and unrelenting competition. Add that to the high nurse turnover rates, and you start understanding how tricky the situation is.

And the current industry growth isn’t making the situation any better. Today, caregivers have options when it comes to where to work. Meaning, you’re competing for employees against retail companies, fast food chains, and giants like Walmart and Amazon. Unless you have a well-thought out onboarding and retention program, your business might take a huge hit.

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In today's job market, signs like these are all too common.

What’s driving high turnover rates?

Currently, the US has the highest number of people age 65. Projections show that the baby boomer population will increase from 49 to 95 million between 2016 and 2050. During the same time, the labor force will only increase by 14%. According to PHI, labor-intensive work, few growth opportunities and irregular hours are some of the reasons senior care facilities continue to experience huge turnover rates.

How to hire for assisted living facilities

That said, the goal is not to onboard caregivers for your senior care services but to find those who can stay with you for a long time. This article will break down the hiring process to help you make the most out of it.

Determine the task at hand to pick the right caregiver

So, are you looking for a nurse to help residents take their medicines on time, or a physical therapist to keep the seniors in good physical shape? Your needs will influence the type of professional you’re looking for, as well as the approach you take. Here are some health care professionals for senior homes:

Physical therapists: Physical therapists help residents maintain their physical function and reduce the risk of falling. They take care of strength training, pain management, and fall prevention.

Registered nurses: Registered Nurses initiate treatment plans and administer medicine. They prepare IVs, give injections, draw blood and take vital signs. These nurse practitioners monitor patient health and ensure they’re getting proper care. They also report any changes in the residents’ health or living situation.

Licensed Nursing Assistances: LNAs work under the supervision of RN. They take vital signs, give enemas, and may initiate medicine, apply dressing, bandages, insert catheters, and monitor IVs. They may also feed residents and note down any changes in their health.

Occupational therapists: Occupational therapists identify the causes of difficulties that limit participation in activities of daily living, leisure engagement, and educational and vocational pursuits.

Social workers: Social workers help seniors adjust to life in their new residence, advocate for their clients; needs and rights, provide supportive counseling and make a psychosocial assessment.

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Define the job before hiring

Perform a job analysis to gather information about necessary skills, responsibilities, duties, work environment, and outcomes for a given job. For example, an elder who needs help with light housekeeping or hygiene will have different needs than one with Alzheimer’s. A job analysis guides you in creating a job description for the new employee. It also helps you plan your recruiting strategy.

Here are some common items that you can include in your job description:

Know what to look for

In addition to certification, you want to find a caregiver who’ll treat the residents with care and respect. The caregiver should also have a good disposition, ability to deal with stress, non-argumentative temperament, and overall compassionate nature.

Personality: Find a caregiver with a good personality. Their qualifications alone won’t change their attitude. Avoid a caregiver who comes with a list of things they won’t do. Instead, work with one who’s open to most assignments.

Experience: Your ideal caregiver should have the necessary experience to handle senior-specific needs. For example, if the seniors have Alzheimer’s, the caregiver should have experience dealing with Alzheimer’s patients and so on.

Training: A good caregiver should have some form of training, whether formal or informal. But depending on the task at hand, the caregiver may need certification and licensing.

Honesty and reliability: Check references to ensure the caregiver passes the honesty and reliability test to ensure they won’t steal from the residents or fake the hours worked. Also, check to confirm that they always show up on time every time.

Accountability: Ask interview questions that help you gauge whether the applicant shifts blame or takes responsibility for their actions. Then use your best judgment to determine if they are a good fit.

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Find and interview a caregiver

There are many ways to find a potential caregiver. You can ask for referrals, advertise on job boards like Craigslist or place an ad in the classified section of your local newspaper.

If you have a website, you can publish the job posting on your site and share it on your company’s social media pages. You can even share them through Google or Bing Ads. The goal is to spread the word about the job opening, to get as many applicants as possible.

Once the applications start coming in, you can interview the prospects over the phone and narrow down your options before interviewing in person. Use your job description to screen applicants – but also take it a notch higher to find out about things like:

Perform a background check before you hire

Background checks help you identify the right applicant to care for the residents and minimize the risk of hiring a person convicted of elder abuse. Think of it as a way to protect your residents against theft and violence. Background checks are essential, seeing 1 in 6 people 60+ years experienced elder abuse in 2020. In addition to checking criminal records, a background check can:

Depending on your preference, you can run checks through a private investigator or law office.

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Work with an agency

If all these seem overwhelming, you can work closely with an agency to find the right caregivers. Senior home recruitment agencies work with both professionals who seek job opportunities and employers looking to hire employees. They remove the hard work from the process, taking care of identifying talent, advertising roles, negotiating pay, and interviewing candidates, so you don’t have to. The only downsides of working with an agency are you’ll pay more for a caregiver and that you’ll also have limited negotiation.

What Can you Do to Help People in A Senior Living Community?

Many older adults prefer to age in place, even in cases where cognitive or physical decline makes it hard to live independently. According to one AARP survey, about 90% of US seniors wish to stay in their homes for as long as they can. Yet, the US Census data shows that most homes may not be designed to accommodate the needs of the seniors. The survey further adds that older homes have stepped entries, multi-story living, second-story bedrooms, hallways, etc., which make daily living a challenge. So, what can you do to help people in a senior living community?

Even though home care is ideal for many senior citizens, it is not always the best option for them or the family members who look after their health and wellbeing. This is especially true for seniors with medical needs or those in homes that aren’t equipped for it. 

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Senior living communities are a great alternative to home care. Some even offer additional care services while still allowing independent living. These facilities are excellent for the senior’s social life and make the transition easier down the road.

That said, it all boils down to what the seniors want or prefer. In this article, we will discuss some of the many ways you can help a senior citizen aging in place or living in a nursing home.

How to help people in a senior living community

As seniors grow older, they go through changes that affect every part of life. Many times, these changes prompt the need for extra care and assistance for seniors. So the seniors tend to become more dependent on other people to survive even against their wishes. They’ll depend on people for comfort, care, and support for survival and better quality of life.

Whether you are a professional nurse or caregiver, here is what you can do to help people in a senior living community.

Offer to get them around – at home and in town

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For many seniors, quality of life involves maintaining independence, taking part in hobbies, and getting out into the world. But mobility problems can prevent them from all these and cause depression, isolation, and declining health. If the senior has severe mobility issues, you may want to:

Organize and manage their medication

Safely managing medication is critical for older adults. Most seniors take multiple drugs throughout the day. According to studies, 87% take one prescription medicine, while 36% take five or more.

Helping the seniors manage their medication prevents mix-ups and ensures they take medications correctly as prescribed by their healthcare professional. Here’s how to do it:

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Prepare proper nutrition

Many people struggle with getting one well-balanced meal on the table each day. But it’s even tougher for older adults since they can hardly move around. Adding to the problem is that many seniors deal with a range of chronic illnesses that can contribute to or be worsened by poor nutrition. Assistance programs like Meals on Wheels offer great help, but you can also do a few things to help them get proper nutrition.

Encourage them to socialize

Elder care also involves helping the seniors find friends and fun activities to break the boredom. If you are offering home care assistance, this means driving them to their friends or loved ones or taking them to fun places.

If it’s in a facility, then you can encourage them to join different social activities. Socializing can offer a range of mental and physical health benefits. According to CDC, loneliness and social isolation affect many seniors in the US, putting them at risk for dementia and other severe medical conditions.

Help them manage their money

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Another great way to care for seniors in senior living communities is to help them with their finances. Many seniors struggle with keeping up with bills or accessing their mobile banking.

Others find health insurance forms confusing and could use a little help completing them. If you don’t have financial experience, you can help the senior get a referral from a reputable source. Your local area Agency on Aging is a great place to start.

Provide health care services

If you are a trained professional like a social worker, occupational therapist, or home health nurse, you can provide some health care services. For instance, you can prescribe medication, offer therapy and even offer bed baths. You can also hire professionals to help with things you’re not comfortable doing, like giving a bath and so on. But just be sure to check if the elder’s health insurance services will pay for it, or if it will be financed out-of-pocket.

Help with activities of daily living

Personal care includes any help with the activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, toilet/continence, meal preparations, eating, and transferring/ambulating. Most seniors who are unable to do such basic things might have a hard time accepting help. So you need to be understanding and reassuring to help them feel comfortable.

All of these things can greatly help people in a senior living community. Simply spending the time to ensure that their needs are met can go a long way in helping them feel comfortable and secure.

The Best Ways to Ensure Quality of Life to your Assisted Living Community

The benefits of assisted living services extend beyond activities of daily living. These homes open the world of opportunities and greater freedom for seniors. That’s why millions of families move their loved ones to these homes when home care is no longer a viable option.

As a service provider, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance the level of care in the facility. This can pose a unique challenge because of varying needs of the elderly. But ensuring quality of life in your assisted living community doesn’t have to be complex. A few simple steps can help you deliver the best experiences to all the residents in your home.

The Best Ways to Improve Resident Care:

Address loneliness

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A study by the Brigham Young University found that loneliness can be as deadly as obesity or smoking. Senior isolation may encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, complicate the existing condition and affect cognition. It may also lead to higher cases of elder abuse as perpetrators take advantage of their isolation to scam, steal or injure them. Other studies show that Alzheimer’s almost doubles in lonely adults and that their mental decline was faster.

Going by these studies, addressing loneliness is one of the best things you can do in your senior living facility to ensure the quality of life. Great ways of preventing loneliness include:

·      Promoting social interaction

·      Encouraging a sense of purpose

·      Showing them that they are loved

·      Integrating physical activities like stair climbing, walking, and other age-appropriate workouts to keep the older adults in a solid mental, emotional and physical shape.

Hire enough staff

Staffing is one of the most tangible and crucial elements to ensure high-quality care. Everyone is happy when a facility has an adequate staff-to-resident ratio. But when the facility is understaffed, the team gets overwhelmed and becomes unwilling to offer assistance with activities of impaired adults. They may also become abusive out of their frustration. That’s why you need to hire adequate staff. But it's equally essential to onboard trained staff with a good grasp of residential care.

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Embrace new technology

Seniors may have shied away from technology in the past, but not anymore. The baby boomer generation is now widely adopting technology to keep in touch with their loved ones, manage their finances, alert caregivers in case of an accident, etc. They are using laptops, phones, and smartwatches for daily interactions and other activities. There are many other technologies that you can embrace to ensure your assisted living residents have a better quality of life, these include:

Personalize rooms

Personalization is critical, especially in memory care homes. It helps staff know the residents, their preferences, family, and special memories of travel and a well-lived life. It is also vital in the case of residents suffering from conditions like expressive aphasia and dementia. Usually, these people can’t tell their own life stories so their possessions that represent their activities, achievements, and memories can communicate about their past.

For this reason, it is a good idea to allow residents to bring some of their unique and favorite belongings and items with them as they move into the care facility. These possessions will not only aid with care but also help the residents feel at home. In addition to this, you may want to customize the rooms to fit the needs of the residents. Since no single resident has the same need as the other, it pays to understand the needs of each one of them and modify their spaces accordingly. And don’t forget the outdoors and common spaces too. A few things you can do in this regard include:

Provide lots of fun, social opportunities

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Spending time and maintaining relationships with others is essential to a senior’s mental and emotional well-being. It can prevent depression which is common with seniors. Studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 7 million adults in the US, 65 years and older suffer from depression each year. And while many aspects lead to depression, isolation and inactivity tend to be the biggest contributors.

Alzheimer’s Association recommends socialization to help seniors maintain brain activity. As such, providing lots of fun and social opportunities in your facility can be a great way to improve the level of care in your homes. Here are a few recommendations for social activities.

Make tidiness a priority

One of the main reasons seniors move from home care to assisted living is to get help with laundry and housekeeping. Providing stellar personal care services is essential, but ensuring that the rooms and surrounding area are in tip-top condition is also crucial. Assisted living homes always need to be clean to create a healthy environment for residents and caregivers. Hiring professional cleaning services can be a great way to ensure your facility stays clean. A clean facility offers plenty of benefits, including:

Emphasize providing quality meals and dining experience

Dining isn’t just an essential part of a senior’s social life in an assisted living community, it’s an important pleasure for them as well. Residents enjoy nice meals in a good dining setting. They also need well-balanced meals as part of their health care. When it comes to resident care, it is the simple things that matter, like eating what they want, when they want, and where they want.

While providing meals for the elderly, it’s vital to take note of their varying health needs. For instance, seniors with heart disease need to avoid processed meals and high-fat dairy products. Instead, they should eat high-quality proteins, healthy fats, colorful veggies and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. In addition to nutrition, you want to create an appealing dining atmosphere that makes residents eager and willing to enjoy their meals.

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What to Look for in a Top-Notch Senior Care Facility

The decision to put your loved one in an assisted living home is never an easy one. But unfortunately, sometimes it reaches a point where they can't stay at home due to serious health and safety concerns. In this case, placing them in a care facility can be a great way to improve their health and quality of life. A top-notch senior care facility will provide high-quality long-term care – allowing your loved one to interact with peers and live in a safe and secure place with help close at hand.

But you should know that assisted living facilities are not created equally. Some are better than others. So it's imperative to familiarize yourself with the qualities of a good senior living community. Knowing what to look for can help you make an informed decision. Here are some essential qualities to look out for in a top-notch senior care facility.

Sufficient staffing

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Nurses and other staff members in senior living communities play an integral role in ensuring your loved one's optima health and wellbeing. They will see to it that your loved one is as comfortable as they should be at all times. When a senior care facility is understaffed, nurses may cut corners to get the job done the best they can. Unfortunately, this might translate to neglect and abuse that may cause physical illness, mental health issues, and even death among residents.

Top-notch senior care facilities understand this fact too well. They know that sufficient staffing is key to improving patient care and nursing retention. So they always ensure that there's an adequate staff-to-resident ratio at all times.

Exercise and fitness

As your loved one grows older, it can become harder to maintain their physical fitness. But the very changes that make the physical workout more challenging also make it more vital. Top-notch senior living facilities provide a wide range of senior activities for their residents. Working out helps resolve common old-age issues. The benefits of physical activity for older adults are far-reaching, and include:

A good assisted living community maintains a schedule of senior activities for its residents. It considers their patient’s physical limitations as it motivates them to stay active with routine workouts.

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Interesting activities for residents

In addition to physical activities, a good assisted living facility will have a range of other exciting activities in daily living. It will provide different kinds of social, educative, and interactive activities. Skilled nursing facilities that offer various social activities are more likely to help senior residents overcome loneliness and feel like part of a group. These activities should accommodate the need of each individual – which can be diverse in this setting.

Comfortable and clean environment

You can tell a lot about a senior care home by just looking at its surroundings. But beyond that, there are a few critical details that you need to pay attention to. For starters, you want to check out their units and ensure that they are designed for long-term care. Then, you want to check the doorways and hallways to confirm adequate lighting and observe any obstacles or safety hazards that might exist. The spaces around the home should also be clean, tidy, and well maintained. There should be no semblance of odors like feces or urine. Most importantly, the residents should be well-groomed and their quarters should appear clean and tidy.

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The best-skilled nursing facilities invest a lot in keeping the facility as welcoming as possible. You'll see the manicured ground, safe walkways, shady and sunny areas, and outdoor seating. Their rooms are spacious and with plenty of natural light. They also have functional HVAC systems. In many cases, these facilities allow residents to bring their furnishings and family pictures to decorate their spaces. They also have common spaces where residents can interact with each other and their families too.

Safety and security

Safety and security are the most common concerns for friends and families who admit their senior loved ones into living facilities. With abuse and theft cases hitting the headlines every so often, it's essential to assess the security and safety measures that a facility has in place to protect their residents. Top-notch senior care facilities have a maximum staff-to-resident ratio to avoid overworking staff members. This reduces the neglect and abuse cases that arise due to nursing facility understaffing. It also ensures that residents don't wander or elope out of the facilities. Moreover, the best facilities also have surveillance systems to monitor all activities inside and around the premises.

Amenities

The best-assisted living communities have a wide variety of amenities to cater to their residents' vast needs. They will have a library, computer access, and a health and wellness center with personal trainers. Some even have barbershops and salons within the facility, making it easy for residents to groom their hair. Older adults also love it when they look good and can engage in activities that make them feel valued.

A strong sense of community

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You can gauge the quality of care in a home by looking at how the nurses and other staff members interact with residents. They call the residents by their name, treat them with respect and engage in conversations. The staff also encourages residents to socialize with others to enhance their quality of life. You can also rate nursing homes by looking at how welcoming it is to you and other family members. A facility where loved ones are welcome makes it easier for seniors to transition smoothly and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Staff attention and minimum restrictions to make you feel part of the community can improve seniors' quality of life and make the home more welcoming.

Utilizes modern technology - software & wearables

A best-in-class assisted living community will often employ the latest in technology, like SeniorSense, so it can detect falls and moisture levels even as they happen. The innovative software can allow the community to see where staff is and track their progress as well as monitor conditions such as room and water temperature. It can even monitor battery life levels on wearables, smoke detectors and CO2 detectors.

 

Decision-making opportunities

Last, but not least, your loved one should have the freedom to air out their opinions regarding how they wish to sleep, dress, participate in activities and even receive care. Find out if they are allowed to socialize or dine together with other residents. Speaking about dining, top-notch senior care facilities serve visually appealing food. They also change the menu from time to time and consider the residents' health issues and their ethical and religious needs.

 

 

 

Top Concerns of People with Parents in Senior care Facilities

Home care services can be a great way to care for a senior adult. However, some situations force people to look into other care options. For instance, the senior loved one might have a severe mental illness or even dementia that would require skilled nursing supervision. It could also be that there's no one at home to render the best personal care. In such cases, it makes sense for the safety of your loved one to seek professional care. If you are considering placing one, or both of your parents in senior care facilities, you may want to know about these concerns.

Leaving a senior loved one in a care facility is not as easy as it sounds. Not when there are concerns about their wellbeing, care, safety, and security in these homes. Such concerns include:

Understaffing in long-term care homes

One of the top concerns that people with parents in senior care facilities have is the staffing issue. Many long-term care homes were short-staffed before the pandemic. And now, it's even more challenging to hire and maintain nurses that care for residents.

Families are worried that their loved ones won't get adequate care because these facilities are understaffed. That the few available staff strain and may end up cutting corners. And that they may fail to fulfill their duties as expected. Whether it’s to wash their hands often enough or respond to calls whenever the elderly needs help, and so on.

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With many senior care facilities being overstaffed, your loved one might not get the attention they need and deserve.

Security and safety concerns

There have been several reports of security breaches making headlines in the recent past. In 2018, for instance, a 94-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by an intruder while at a skilled nursing facility. Industry watchdogs and government agencies have raised the alarm about lax standards in assisted living facility that includes nursing and retirement homes.

Some common security and safety concerns that friends and families have include:

 

Resident violence or aggression

Some families place their loved ones into long-term care facilities because of their worsening condition or aggression. In most cases, the older adult cannot stay at home because the family caregivers don't know how to render care. But even with the shift, families still worry about how their aggressive loved one will fit into a home. That’s not the only point of concern for residents. Other residents’ families also worry about their loved ones being attacked by the aggressive resident.

2010 multivariate analyses by the National Library of Medicine found that 7.6% of 6,848 residents living in skilled nursing homes engaged in physical abuse or aggression toward other residents or staff members in the past month. 9.5% had shown verbal abuse or aggression, while 2% had engaged in sexual abuse or aggression toward staff or other residents. In all these cases, severe mental disease and dementia were significant risk factors.

Most skilled nursing facilities have processes in place to help contain such cases. These processes allow them to strike a balance caring for residents with behavioral problems while protecting other clients. In extreme cases, the resident may have to go to a state psychiatric hospital.

Theft from staff members or residents

Senior adults are more susceptible to financial abuse than the rest of the population. When people get older, they trust more often because they have to. They also have a harder time with memory. Sadly, some bad residents and staff members take advantage of this fact to steal from unsuspecting residents. Common types of financial abuse include credit card fraud, bank withdrawals, stealing cash, and access to debit cards. All these things are illegal and are punishable by law.

Elopement or wandering

According to a case report, about 31% of nursing homes and 25-70% of community residents wander at least once. Another study reported that 1 in 5 people with dementia wanders. Going by the numbers, it is clear why families worry about an elopement or wandering in long-term care facilities. Wandering is usually safe and healthy when it's within the facility. It is one of the common, daily activities in most senior living homes.

When residents wander or elope from the nursing home, it can be dangerous. Elopement happens when the resident makes their way out of the assisted living community undetected and goes into harm's way. In most cases, they elope because of:

 

Elopements are common during the first few weeks after a resident joins a community. Most of them do so because of the change in setting and desire to go back home. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to prevent this from happening.

 

Abuse from staff

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Sadly, elder abuse can take on many forms. Beyond physical abuse, elders can be verbally and mentally abused, as well.

According to WHO, 1 in 6 adults aged 60+ suffered one or more abuse types while in a community setting. WHO also adds that 2 in 3 nursing home staff members said they abused residents over the past year. Such glaring numbers make many family members worry about their loved ones' safety in these care homes. They are concerned that their loved ones may suffer at the hands of those supposed to care for them. Nursing home abuse includes:

 

 

Abuse can take many forms, while some is less obvious than others. Signs that a loved one is being abused in a nursing home can include:

 

But since these signs may vary, it's imperative to closely monitor your loved one. He or she may not speak about their abuse because of fear or simply being unable to communicate.

Concerns about their loved one falling or getting hurt

It is not uncommon for senior adults to slip and fall. In fact, each year, 3 million senior adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. For this reason, many family members worry about their loved one falling.

This is considering that slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of disability and even death in the US. But the good news is that aging in place can be a great way to prevent falls. Most of these institutions have secured spaces that ensure adults are safe from falls and other hazards. They have handrails, grab bars, effective lighting, safe bathrooms, etc., to ensure the safety of their elderly residents.

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Falls can be devastating to seniors. Most senior care facilities are designed around their resident's safety, with adequate lighting, ramps and handrails to help minimize the likelihood of a fall.

 

Strangers caring for parents

Seniors, like everyone else, prefer to be around familiar faces like family or friends. They want their loved ones to prepare their meals, bathe them and even carry them around if needs be. But when home care services are not feasible due to a range of reasons, they'll have to get this care from someplace else – like in an assisted living community, or in the case of mental illness, a skilled nursing facility. However, the prospect of a stranger caring for a loved one is disturbing to seniors and their families alike. And it can get extremely uncomfortable, especially when it comes to personal needs.

WytCote understands these issues and in response created SeniorSense. SeniorSense provides resident care and monitoring as well as staff quality control in a simple, secure and easy-to-use platform. Ask your community if they have SeniorSense.

 

Best Accreditations for Senior & Assisted Living

Long term care facilities offer a range of services to those who aren’t able to live independently. Mostly, these are people aged 65+. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in nursing homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. That’s why the importance of working with an accredited facility can never be overstated. So what is accreditation, and what are the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities to obtain?

Accreditation helps determine if a senior living home meets or exceeds minimum quality standards. When a facility is accredited by a reputable organization, you can rest easy knowing your loved one will be safe and well-cared for. Without such systems in place, it would be impossible to tell the excellent facilities apart from the average ones.

Many accreditation bodies exist in the United States. But as with any other system, these bodies are not created equally. Some are certainly better than others. When it comes to your loved one’s level of care and safety, it’s always a good idea to go with the best. It is hard to imagine your loved one going into an understaffed, or outdated facility that didn’t offer high-quality senior care. This article will highlight the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities to guide you. But before that, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

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Knowing the best accreditations for senior care and assisted living facilities can help your business stand-out, as one of the best in your field.

Senior living licensure vs. accreditation

Senior care providers may get three recognition levels: certification, licensure, and accreditation. Licensure is a type of recognition used in most government systems. It has set rules and directs providers to abide by specific local codes. Providers need to have a license before they can operate. But they must pass some basic licensure test that covers the regulations and rules for operation to get their license. The test also includes an inspection of the facility.

Certification recognizes personal achievements. It’s a proof that a person has attained certain education level or skill set by an institution. Certificates are given to those who successfully finish a specific training or work experience. It shows that the experts can offer nursing care or medical care to older adults.

On top of meeting all the certification and licensure requirements, some providers may voluntarily choose to go through the accreditation process. The main difference between licensure, certification and accreditation is that accreditation is given only after a provider is shown to conform to a set of specific standards. Certification and licensure are, however, needed upfront before services can be performed. Accreditation helps establish whether the provider’s processes produce positive results.

The conformance to standards is typically measured by a third-party body that goes to the senior living facility to review materials and talk to family members, nursing home residents, administration boards, and the staff members. So, accreditation is the recognition by experts that a senior living home meets the highest industry standards.

With that out of the way, here are some of the best accreditation for senior and assisted living.

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Accreditation Commission for Home Care, INC. (ACHC)

ACHC is a nonprofit accreditation body that has stood as a quality and excellence symbol for over three decades. The organization has CMS approval for hospice, home health, renal dialysis, and DMEPOS accreditation. Over the years, ACHC has created the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities, that have positively impacted countless organizations. Its standards are built by experts and promote quality services, enhance organizational operations and ensure optimal care. ACHC:

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Accreditation

CARF is a nonprofit that sets very high standards for care and service. It is a well-known independent accreditation body for human and health care services providers across the United States and Western Europe. CARF accredits continuing care retirement communities and related services that offer hospital, community, and home-based care. The accreditation process starts with a range of steps that include:

CARF has one of the most stringent peer-review processes, making it an admirable accreditation for senior and assisted living facilities. In fact, its standards were set over five decades ago by global partners of policymakers, service providers, and family members. These standards have been subjected to public review to verify the applicability and ensure all stakeholders contribute.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO)

JCAHO is an independent, nonprofit body that accredits skilled nursing facilities and some continuing care retirement communities. But it does assess assisted living homes. The nonprofit tries to consistently enhance care homes by:

JCAHO is a respected body in the health care industry. It has a reputation for its high standards in grading long-term care facilities, hospitals, and service providers.

Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP)

CHAP standards are specific to the community and home-based care. They offer a practical, straightforward guide as per the facility’s specific model. The organization has deeming authority issued by the CMS to determine whether it meets their quality standards and Medicare Conditions of Participation. CHAP:

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Benefits of accreditation

Long-term care facilities use accreditation to improve their performance and display their commitment to safety and quality to external stakeholders. The latest studies show that long-term care accreditation is a risk reduction activity that minimizes the chances of adverse resident outcomes and incrementally enhances a facility’s performance. Besides, accreditation improves community confidence, supports staff education and recruitment, and offers a structure for organizing business and care processes. But most importantly, it enables facilities to set themselves apart in the market of more than different 15,000 nursing homes in the US.

 

Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s in Assisted Living

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain. It causes large numbers of cells in the brain to die. This impacts an individual’s ability to think clearly and remember things. People with Alzheimer’s disease are forgetful and easily confused. They behave in odd ways and may have difficulties concentrating. These issues worsen as the illness progresses, making your job as a caregiver harder.

An estimated 5.8 million Americans 65 years and older lived with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. It affects the part of the brain that controls thought, language, and memory. Over time, the disease impacts one’s ability to execute daily activities. Sometimes, it makes them aggressive, incontinent, or wander a lot. Families that cannot meet all the needs of an Alzheimer’s patient often consider long-term care facilities like an assisted living home.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

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Alzheimer’s is a progressive and irreversible brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s thinking and memory skills. In later stages of the disease, patients lose the ability to execute even the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia among older people, ages 65+. But it can still affect people between ages 30 and 60.

This article will highlight some of the things to keep in mind when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. But before we do that, let’s look at the different stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Stages of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease can be mild, moderate, or severe. The symptoms worsen as the disease progresses, bringing new challenges to you as a caregiver. Knowing the stages and their associated symptoms can help you plan ahead.

Mild (preclinical)

Patients with early-stage or mild Alzheimer’s disease can still function independently. They can participate in social and professional activities. But they’ll have a hard time focusing or remembering recent events. Most will also forget certain names or words and have difficulties writing and solving problems.

Moderate (mild cognitive impairment MCI)

At this stage, the patient experiences significant confusion, memory loss, and physical symptoms. They will have a hard time recognizing close friends and family.  Organizing, following instructions, and performing regular tasks will become very difficult. Patients may also wander or get lost, become restless, or have trouble falling asleep. Other symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s include personality changes and fecal or urinary incontinence.

Severe (Alzheimer’s dementia)

Patients with severe Alzheimer’s lose the ability to carry out most or all of their basic activities. So they’ll need help with daily life activities like walking, eating, and sitting up. At this stage, they may not be able to engage in conversation or recognize their family members. Chewing and swallowing become a problem too.

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Things to bear in mind when caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in assisted living

Today, more than 50% of residents in assisted living facilities have some form of cognitive impairment or dementia, including Alzheimer’s. If you are a caregiver in one of such facilities, you should always remember that the disease is what causes the changes, and not the person. Here are a few things to keep in mind when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s in assisted living.

 

Your patience and sensitivity go along way

Dressing, eating, and grooming will become challenging as the disease progresses. The loss of privacy and independence that comes with the condition can be a hard transition for the resident with dementia. Your sensitivity, patience and understanding will help him or her through it. Once you are done helping with the daily tasks, you may want to think about the patient’s abilities. Then encourage them to do as much as they can – and be ready to help when the need arises.

Meltdowns are common

As the disease progresses, it becomes harder for the patient to communicate. He or she may want you to warm the food or turn down the volume. But because they cannot express their needs, they may end up lashing out in anger. In some cases, these residents experience pain and discomfort, lack of sleep, or they’re just not in sync with their routines. So you should understand this and handle any meltdown situation with professionalism and positivity. You can lower the occurrence of such issues by keeping the resident on a regular routine and ensuring they’re comfortable. Try to:

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Reminders and logic may not work

When caring for a resident with Alzheimer’s, you may find yourself trying to help them act as they would normally. For instance, you may want to remind them of facts or a conversation when they say something that’s off and so on. But this will only make things worse. Alzheimer’s is confusing and scary for the patient. Trying to use reason or logic to explain why they’re wrong will likely make them defensive, agitated, angry, or difficult. So it’s best to respect and join them in their new reality – and focus more on their emotions as opposed to words.

Nutrition is essential

People with Alzheimer’s may not need a special diet in the initial stages. But as the disease progresses, weight loss and loss of appetite may become concerns. Experts recommend serving finger foods, high-calorie healthy meals, and multivitamins. In the later stages, the patient may have difficulty chewing and swallowing. This is a big problem because if he or she chokes, the food might go into the lung, causing pneumonia. So, it’s best to prepare foods that are not hard to chew and swallow. Also, provide drinks with high water content, like smoothies, soups, and fruits.

How to Know When Assisted Living Homes are Well-Run?

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

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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

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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.

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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.