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Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities: The “Invisible Questions” You Should Ask.

    Invisible Questions

    Many communities present well, but like any major life decision, it pays to dig a bit deeper and find out even more as you go through the process of discovery. We like to think of these deeper queries as the “invisible” questions that will start to paint a truer picture of the community and whether it’s right for you or your loved one. Critical questions that must be answered so you have real peace of mind, and the assurances of proper and smart decision making, Questions like:

    • How many full-time staff and how many residents do you have?
    • Tell me about your staff retention rates.
    • Has the management team been the same for a year or more? How long?
    • Is it a profit or non-profit?
    • What has been the three-year history of annual fee increases? If a new community, what is the anticipated annual fee increase?

    Ask, Ask, Ask!

    It dazzles us with promise and by the “look” of a product, service or community – however, buyer beware. Before doing your homework on what makes one assisted living and memory care community better than others is absolutely paramount to ensure you or your loved one truly benefits from the right move. Not all communities are the same.

    And in addition to know the history of the community, the management make-up and of course, the basics of “for profit vs non-profit”, there are many answers you need to consider in making your decision. Location is always key. Close to family or friends? Is the community within walking distance to medical services and lifestyle amenities? Is transportation easily accessible? Is the neighborhood safe?  

    Once you get a basic idea of a community or communities and start to narrow your choices, begin digging a bit deeper into a few categories that will help refine your search and make you feel even better about your final decision.

    What’s The Really Important First Question?

    One of the more important questions is to ask about the organization itself. Its history, vision, management, and/or board of directors—take the time to see just how well the community measures up with healthcare professionals and services; find out what they think about the community you are considering. Chances are pretty good they have an opinion based upon professional interchange and history with the community, the management, and staff.

    The Staff Will Be Your Day-To-Day Community “Face”.

    We cannot understate the importance of asking about the community’s staff. What is the staff-to-resident ratio? How many staff members care for each resident? Talk about staff turnover, tenure, training, and the philosophy or ideals the staff lives up to; remember, the community staff is part of your everyday life in your new address and as such, is really part of your extended family so the quality of personal interaction and trust is, of course, key. Ask if the community has a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or certified nursing assistants on staff 24/7 and which staff members can administer medications, and what that process is like.

    Make Sure You Know All The Fees.

    Not all communities are the same and fees vary along with apartment size, services, amenities, transportation and any assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs such as bathing, dressing, medication management, transferring or escorting). If you’re diabetic, ask if they have licensed staff to administer insulin. These Levels of Care (or some use a point system which can appear less expensive, but can wind up costing more) are layered on top of the monthly fee. Also be sure to inquire about what the annual fee increase has been over the last three years and be sure to compare those “cost of living fees” — especially between for-profit and non-profit organization. Don’t forget the one-time Community Fee and that there is a second person fee if a couple.

    Finally, in Memory Care, some are “all-inclusive” monthly fees (the cost of all the ADLs is wrapped into the monthly fee) and others have levels of care added on to the monthly fee. Be sure to find out if there are any other costs you should know about so you aren’t surprised later, thinking you got such a good deal.

    Always Raise Your Hand.

    Your questions and inquiries should be welcomed, honored, and respected. And as you and your family go on the journey of looking into communities, the conversations about the move will naturally progress and hopefully assure you of making the right decision about cost, services, lifestyle, staff, healthcare, and living well with assistance. Over time and once you have made the move, a more social and enjoyable lifestyle of care that allows you to enjoy new friends, security, and a personable staff will result in the peace of mind that you made the right decision. Remember, at Rhoda Goldman Plaza we believe that “Here, you’re like family.”