6 Tips for Touring an Assisted Living Community on a Senior's Behalf
Finding an assisted living community that is a good fit for a senior loved one takes time and thoughtful research. One step of the research process is paying a personal visit to each community you are considering. Touring and talking with staff and residents is the best way to learn more about the community’s services, amenities, and culture.
If you haven’t been through the process before, you might be wondering what to look for and what to ask. To help you make the most of your community visits, we assembled a list of tips. These will help you make an informed decision on your senior loved one’s behalf.
How to Make the Most of an Assisted Living Community Tour
1. Quality of care requires compassionate, experienced caregivers.
Providing the highest quality of care is dependent upon the community having well-trained caregivers who are compassionately committed to residents. Here’s how to evaluate the caregivers at a community you visit:
- Ask how the community recruits and trains its team members
- Inquire about what type of background checks employees go through
- Ask how long the average caregiver tenure is and how long key leadership team members have been with the community
- Find out what the resident-to-caregiver ratio is during the day and overnight
2. Pay careful attention to residents and staff.
As you make your way through the community, pay close attention to the relationships between staff members and residents. Are interactions positive and warm? Do team members greet residents by name? Do residents seem to be engaged with staff?
Also pay attention to nonverbal cues. You can tell a lot by body language and facial expressions. Do residents and staff both seem comfortable and relaxed with one another?
Finally, do residents look clean and well-cared-for? Are they dressed appropriately for the time of day and season?
3. Ask about future care needs and changes.
Moving is tough at any age, but it is especially so for older adults. Ask what will happen if your loved one’s needs change. Can they remain at the community and receive additional care?
Also make sure you ask if there are any circumstances under which a resident would be required to move.
4. Be sure you understand the community’s fee structure.
One struggle families often cite is difficulty understanding how communities assess monthly resident fees. There are a variety of pricing models in assisted living, so be sure you understand what the monthly fee will be.
- What is included in the base monthly fee?
- Will there be additional fees for care and service?
- What fees aren’t included that you should expect?
- How often do rates increase and how much notice is given before new rates are effective?
- What happens to the monthly fee when a resident needs more care?
5. Community maintenance and cleanliness
It’s important not to judge a community by the plush lobby or luxurious furnishings. Instead, pay attention to maintenance and cleanliness. From the time you pull into the parking lot, pay attention to how well-maintained the community is. Once you are inside, be mindful of how clean and odor-free the community is. Are resident rooms and common areas clean and in good condition?
5. Read the community’s state survey reports and online reviews.
Our final tip is to see what state surveyors, residents, and their families have to say about the community. Many states publish survey results on their Department of Aging or Department of Health websites. If your state doesn’t, ask the community to show you survey results for their last two or three years. They are required to make these surveys available to visitors.
Asking family and friends who have been through this process is another avenue for trusted advice. You can also turn to review sites to see what residents and their families have to say. Check the community’s Facebook page, as well as Angie’s List and Google Reviews for more insight.
At Sunrise Senior Living communities across the country, we welcome and encourage family visits. Call the Sunrise community nearest you to set up a time for a personal tour!