I’ve been off the grid for 6 months as I served as Executive Director (ED)/Administrator for a brand new Memory Care Assisted Living facility in Indiana. We opened on Feb 8th and 4 weeks later, I found myself back in Maryland caring for my mother who is struggling with cancer.
As I reflected on my role as ED/Administrator and as ‘caregiver daughter’ to my mother, I thought of several key tips that would help families as they contemplate a move to Assisted Living. Know that there is an increasing need for Assisted Living these day, and you will likely find many new facilities popping up in your area. It is critical that you do your due diligence before making the selection for your loved one.
The following are truly insider tips. I hope they help you and your family.
As you are visiting Assisted Living facilities, ask if the facility is licensed by the State. Unlike nursing homes, ‘private pay’ assisted living facilities are regulated by the state in which they are located. Regulations vary widely by state, but know that “licensed” is a minimum of what you are looking for. Licensed means that on a regular basis, an objective surveyor team from the State will come into the facility and ensure regulations are being met.
Ask to see the state license for the Assisted Living community and verify that it is active. Then I suggest you call your State Ombudsman and ask what kinds of inquiries or concerns other families have reported to them.
NOTE: If you intend to use long term care insurance, the facility must be licensed. Do not make the mistake of moving your relative in before a facility is licensed. The insurance will not pay and you will be responsible for all costs during the unlicensed period!!!
Ask to see the list of those serving on the Board of Directors. Some states do not require a Board of Directors. A BIG red flag should go up if there is no Board of Directors. You will have to carefully question and determine who holds the power and who makes the decisions. Do not assume it is the licensed administrator (ED.)
Ask to see the nursing schedule (at least for the past, current and upcoming months.) Do not simply ask what the caregiver ratio is. You may be told what the goal ratio is … but you need to know what the actual staffing is. Ensure there is a nurse (LPN/RN) on duty at all times.
Absolutely visit the facility during all shifts. Come and have breakfast and observe the early morning routines. Come during late afternoon and see how the residents are cared for when they are tired and hungry. And, finally, ask if you can come at midnight to speak with the night nurse and observe for an hour. The answer should be, “certainly you may visit then.”
Remember you are “the customer”, and you have the right and responsibility to find the best fit for your loved one. If you have other tips to share with families, please visit my Facebook page (“Transition Aging Parents”) and post there for all to see. Thank you!!!