Assisted Living Communities offer support and services to residents who don’t need 24-hour skilled nursing supervision. They are not just about care or comfort, they are about community. When choosing a new home for yourself or a loved one, an assisted living offers the chance to enjoy familiar faces and build new relationships, while providing a safety net of support and services. Each individual facility has its own menu of services offered, so it is vital to ask the correct questions before making a decision to guarantee you have selected the correct assisted living for your needs.
In Florida, Assisted Living Facilities are licensed so be sure to make certain any facility you are considering has the proper certification. Assisted Living Facilities are designed to encourage dignity, independence and choice for people who don’t need 24-hour nursing supervision but do need housing, support and services.
Licensed Assisted Living Facilities in Florida follow a ten-point philosophy of care:
- Offer cost effective quality care that is personalized for individual needs
- Foster independence for each resident
- Treat each resident with dignity and respect
- Promote the individuality of each resident
- Allow each resident a choice of care and lifestyle
- Protect each resident’s right to privacy
- Nurture the spirit of each resident
- Involve family and friends, as appropriate, in care planning and implementation
- Provide a safe, residential environment
- Make the Assisted Living Residence a valuable community asset
It’s a good idea to arrive early for a scheduled appointment and also make an unscheduled visit during a mealtime. Make an effort to talk with residents and visitors, preferably when staff members are not around, so you can get some unbiased opinions of the facility.
Here are the key factors you should look at closely during each of your visits:
- Ambiance – is the atmosphere welcoming and attractive?
- Cost – make sure it is very clear and in writing what is included and what is not and may be a surcharge.
- Staff – observe staff interactions to see if they show respect and a positive attitude toward residents and others
- Rooms – Along with looking at the living space, you’ll want to know what the rules are for decorating rooms with personal items, whether residents have private telephones, and where private items are secured.
- Dining – If you can, plan to eat a meal with residents. Find out how special dining and menu requests are handled, whether snacks are provided and if private dining areas are available when residents have visitors.
- Services and Activities – is there a range of services that promote quality of life and independence? Take time to observe some of the social, recreational and spiritual activities offered. Are there exercise and wellness programs offered? Also, ask about personal care services (help with bathing, dressing, etc.), medication management, and emergency alert and call systems.
- Healthcare – Assisted Living Facilities may supervise medications and provide outpatient therapy (speech, physical, occupational), on site by a licensed agency. Home Health agencies can provide intermittent skilled services ordered by a Physician or Nurse Practitioner, but they are not responsible for coordinating medical care. Although they aren’t required to, some facilities have a medical director on staff.
- Transportation – Is transportation provided for appointments and shopping?
- Care Levels – does the facility have different levels of care that your loved one can utilize as needs change? Some facilities offer specialized care for those with memory disorders.
- Housekeeping – Find out about laundry, linen, housekeeping and maintenance services provided.
This checklist will help ensure that the facility you choose is one you can trust:
- Is the facility financially stable?
- Is the facility part of a national or regional chain or is it independent?
- What is the rate of resident turnover?
- Who are the off-hours/weekend staff?
- Is there an electric generator?
- Are residents allowed to self-administer medication? Where are these medications stored?
- What is the vaccination policy for residents/staff and are vaccinations available onsite?
- What percentage of residents have significant cognitive dysfunction?
- Are bathrooms handicapped-equipped?
- Are there alarms in every room or does each resident have a personal alarm system?
- What is the visitation policy?