Choosing a facility for you or your loved one can seem like an overwhelming process. Although it can be a stressful and emotional time, having good information can help make the process a little easier. Making an informed decision will involve some research and some of your time.
When choosing a facility it is important to consider your unique needs, preferences and desires. You or your loved one’s physical functioning, mental capacity, personal interests, financial circumstances and social supports all affect what setting and services are most appropriate. Begin by researching what facilities are available in your community. Contact your local government agency/access center or professional association for a list, or look through your local telephone directory under health care services, nurses, etc.
Once you have your list of facilities, you will need to narrow your selection. Ask yourself what really matters to you and your loved one(s); is it the location, size or reputation of the facility, the atmosphere and culture of the facility, its ability to meet current and future health care needs, special programs offered or urgency for placement?
Your initial research can start online, but ensure you talk with family, friends, government agencies and health care professionals. With that feedback, you will then need to visit your top candidates. Take these questions and a list of your own with you on your visits so that you can reflect and compare options to help you make the best decision possible.
Location and Atmosphere
- Is the facility conveniently located? Look for a center with close proximity to family and friends, as well as hospital(s) and personal physician(s).
- Is the building clean, inviting and well-maintained?
- Is the atmosphere welcoming, with friendly, courteous staff?
- Do caregivers show respect and concern for residents and family members?
- Is there a common area for socializing, arts and crafts, and other activities? Special areas for private visits?
- What group and individual activities and programs are available?
- Are religious services held on the premises?
- What are meals like? Ask about dining procedures and policies on special dining or menu requests.
- What about safety and security features? Are there handrails in the hallways; grab bars in the bathrooms; hallways wide enough for two wheelchairs; smoke detectors and sprinklers; alarm systems?
- View a typical room, and ask how roommates are selected if applicable.
- How is privacy respected?
- How are valuable items stored or secured?
- What opportunities do residents have for personalizing the rooms?
- Are private telephone lines and TVs provided?
- Are care plans developed with residents and families?
- What specialty care programs are provided?
- Is the facility ready for specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and terminal illnesses?
- What medical professionals are available nearby (dentists, optometrists, etc.)?
- How are prescriptions handled?
- For specific therapy and rehabilitation needs, ask about the staff members involved and tour the therapy facilities.
- Does the facility have a policy on individual rights, and a commitment statement dedicated to providing the best care and atmosphere for residents?
- Are restraining devices used? When and why?
- Does the center have a Resident or Family Council in which you can participate?
Certification and Education
- Is the facility an accredited health care facility?
- Is the facility a current member of professional associations?
- Is the latest government survey report available for review?
- Does the facility have a quality improvement and assurance program?
- Are staff education programs in place?
When touring, understand that every facility has a unique culture and surroundings. It is important to determine whether the environment is right for you or your family member. You can determine this fit in the following ways:
- Talk to the residents and their families about their likes and dislikes.
- Talk to various staff members to get a sense of their attitude towards the facility and their jobs.
- Ask to see more than just your room and common areas.
- Ask for copies of sample menus, activity calendars and newsletters.
- Ask if you are able to sample a meal or participate in an activity at the facility.
- Look for bulletin boards that might have notes or reports from resident groups, the board of directors, administrator, or documentation from an accrediting organization.