5 Questions to Ask When You Visit an Assisted Living Facility

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5 Questions to Ask When You Visit an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living facilities have grown in popularity in recent years as residential communities for those who may find it difficult to live independently at home. 

When considering an assisted living facility for you or a loved one, you should visit and compare several facilities before making a choice. If you're looking to find an assisted living facility near you, visit our long-term care provider search page.  For each facility you should evaluate the layout and upkeep of all areas keep in mind that residents may move from one area to another as their care needs change.  Notice if the staff is courteous, friendly and attentive to residents. You may want to visit at different times of the day to observe as many staff interactions as possible. Observe the opportunity for community participation as well as privacy.  Arrange in advance to meet with the facility administrator. Here's a starter list of questions you may want to ask:

1. Is the facility licensed? 

Licensed facilities must meet minimum standards set by their states, and are inspected periodically to maintain an active license. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. Contact the state's licensing department to acquire a description of what the facility is required to do in order to maintain an active license.

2. How long has the facility been in operation? 

Newer facilities may offer more amenities and have updated décor. They may also be adjusting their practices and protocols as the units become occupied. One indicator that a facility is still growing is the use of non-permanent employees (perhaps outside contractors) for a large part of their staff. If the facility has been in business for a while, but has recently changed ownership, ask what aspects the new owners have changed, if anything.

3. What are your staffing practices? 

Requirements for staff and administrators vary from state to state.  Ask about educational and training requirements for personal care staff and clinical administrators. Ask about the training program for new staff and also how they are supervised throughout their employment.

4. Do you have a health and wellness program? 

  • Most assisted living facilities have health and wellness promotion programs.  Here are a few key ways in which facilities can contribute to a resident's health and well-being:  By encouraging residents to walk and exercise to help them maintain their general health
  • By offering a variety of social interactions, to reduce isolation and promote an overall sense of well-being for residents
  • By offering well-balanced meals and snacks to promote good nutrition

When researching a facility, check that there are a variety of activities that change regularly and common areas that host social gatherings throughout the day.  You may also want to ask if there are exercise classes with oversight by trained staff.  

5. What kind of contract is required? 

Assisted living facilities generally have resident agreements or contracts that define costs, services and other agreements between the resident and the facility.

Each facility should fully disclose, in advance, the terms under these agreements, including:

  • All monthly fees and the notice period for future changes to the fees
  • Who will be responsible for payment?  What will be the method and timing of payments?
  • Cost for any additional services needed beyond the monthly fees
  • Additional cost if personal care needs increase
  • Criteria for remaining in the facility, such as the ability to get out of bed independently
  •  If any unused portion of the rent is refunded upon transfer or discharge
  • What will happen if the facility decides to raise it's rates?
  • What are the fees to hold the bed if the resident is transferred to a medical facility, such as during a hospital or rehabilitation stay?
  • Under what circumstances can the contract be terminated by the facility?
  • What is required if the resident wishes to terminate the contract?
  • Making available the Patient's Bill of Rights which is a standard requirement for most facility licenses.

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