Good Facilities vs. Bad Facilities

As we covered in a previous article, making the decision to move to a long-term care facility is not an easy one. There is a lot that has to be considered and even the preparatory phase can be a lot of work. First and foremost, you have to determine what exactly your loved one’s needs are. If he or she only needs help in a couple areas, such as bathing or dressing, an assisted living facility might be best. For those with more pressing concerns, who require medical attention every day, a skilled nursing facility is probably the best choice. And for those who are suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a facility specializing in memory care would work well.

However, that’s not the focus of this particular article. Instead, we’ll be taking a look at what to watch out for once you’ve chosen a particular facility. 

First and foremost, what do you notice when you walk in? Are there any unusual smells coming from any of the residents’ rooms or other common areas? If so, this should be a red flag for you. The overall cleanliness of the facility is also something you should notice. If it doesn’t look like what you envision cleanliness to look like, it may not be the best place for your loved one.

Also of note, be sure to watch the other residents. Are they happy? Is there lively conversation or activity going on throughout the facility? If residents are nowhere to be found, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask where they are or what they’re up to.

Another area you should pay close attention to are the employees. Are they friendly and eager to help? Do they seem like they enjoy their jobs? Are they making an effort to get residents to participate in different activities? The answers to these questions are all crucial to your decision. If employees seem to bark orders at people more often than inviting them to join in, or the nurses seem stationary instead of engaging the residents, be wary of this place.

There are a lot more things you can and should watch out for, but to finish up let’s look at some questions you’ll want to ask:

  • Can the person’s needs be met? Be explicit in explaining needs.
  • What’s the basic monthly cost? What are added costs from requiring extra help with things like medications or incontinence? There are many levels of care and even little things can cost extra.
  • Is there a community fee (a one-time cost of moving someone in and refurbishing a room)? Is it refundable if they don’t wish to stay?
  • What kinds of activities are there?
  • Are religious services held at the facility or off-site?
  • What is the ratio of caregivers to residents? It should be no less than 1 to 15 for assisted living and 1 to 8 for memory care.
  • What conditions would cause a resident to move to another care level?
  • Are there regular doctor visits to the residence?
  • What sort of training does the staff receive for caring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
  • Is the facility licensed to provide dementia care, and is there a special unit for those suffering from it?
  • Do dementia patients have a daily routine? (They should)
  • To finish up, you can ask if residents like living at the facility, and be sure to ask any friends or family that might be visiting there what they think about it. But most important of all, be sure to trust your own instincts. If something seems off, chances are that it is.