Submitted by Michele Phillips, Business Office Manager for Welbrook at Bloomington
Today in the United States, nearly one million people enjoy the benefits of residing in a senior assisted living community. These residents chose senior living because—like you—they want to remain active and engaged, they value their independence, and they appreciate quality of life.
With more than 31,000 licensed assisted living communities across the country, you have a variety of options from which to choose. Whether you are looking at assisted living for yourself, or for a loved one, you may consider: where the community is located, the types of care and residential services that are offered, the size and availability of apartments, the cost of living in the community, and most importantly the way you feel when you visit or spend time in the community.
When touring a senior living community, you may first notice the physical features of the community. Is the community well-designed for your needs? Is the community clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled? Does the community’s appearance and décor appeal to you? Are doorways, hallways, and apartments accommodating to your needs? Does the community have sprinklers, smoke detectors, and clearly marked exits?
Consider the community’s location, as you and your guests want to be able to conveniently and safely come and go from the community. Are roads leading to the community safe, well lit, and able to accommodate traffic? Whether you plan to continue driving your own vehicle, or you will utilize the community’s transportation, a convenient location is important for you and your visitors.
During your tour, pay close attention to the environment. Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the community? Do residents of the community interact and appear happy and comfortable? If you have the opportunity, talk to residents and ask them how they like living in the community. Their opinions and feedback are valuable.
Gather information about the types of care available in the community. Is there a nurse on staff? Is staff available to provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADL’s) if needed? ADL’s include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, and toileting. Does the community have a process for assessing a resident’s need for services? Is there a written plan of care for each resident and how frequently is the plan for care reviewed and updated? What medication management options are available to residents? Are additional services, such as physical or occupational therapy or hospice available? In addition to asking about the types of care available, be sure to gather information about the quality of care provided at the community. Speak to individuals or families who have had experience with the community and ask about the quality of care they received.
Residential services and amenities are also important. The most common services and amenities offered in senior assisted living communities are: dining services, housekeeping, transportation, laundry services, wellness and fitness programs, and social and recreational activities. When visiting the community, is there evidence of organized activities, such as a posted activities schedule or events in progress? Do residents have the opportunity to participate in activities outside the community, such as plays, concerts, dining, and shopping? Does the community create a sense of inclusion by encouraging resident participation in activities and wellness programs? Is there an area designed for fitness or wellness activities? Gathering details about services such as housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and maintenance will also help you in choosing a community to meet your individual needs.
Dining is an important part of resident life in an assisted living community. When visiting a community, you may have the opportunity to experience the dining. Ask about meal times, menu options, and the ability to have guests for meals. May a resident request special foods, and can the community accommodate special dietary needs? Do dining room menus vary from day to day?
You may also have the opportunity to tour an apartment while visiting the community. Gather information on the sizes and types of apartments available at the community. Are residents able to bring their own furnishings? Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from the apartment? What utilities are provided? Is ample closet or storage space available?
Gather information about financial options for living in the community. Is an entrance or community fee required? What is the monthly service fee and what services are covered or included? Are there additional costs for various levels or categories of personal care? Is there an additional fee for medication management? What additional costs may be incurred as a resident of the community? Do billing, payment, and credit policies seem fair and reasonable?
It is also important that you understand a community’s process for establishing residency. What steps must take place to become a resident of the community? Is there a wait list? Is a deposit required? Is a residency agreement available for review? Is a consumer disclosure form available that discloses personal care and supportive services, all fees, as well as move-in and move-out procedures? What are the policies for refunds and transfers? Some communities offer the opportunity to place your name on a future residency list, if you choose to do so, so that you may be better prepared for a move to the community in the future, or when a move becomes necessary.
Every assisted living community is unique, and researching and considering your options is important. Tour assisted living communities early, before a crisis, and carefully compare the information you gather. By doing so, you’ll have the information you need to help you find the community that is right for you or your loved one.
For more information about senior living, you may contact a Senior Living Counselor for Welbrook at Bloomington, 309-603-2500. Welbrook at Bloomington offers Senior Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Short Term Respite Care. Visit welbrookbloomington.com for more!
Sources referenced in the writing of this article include: The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), www.alfa.org.