What’s the Best Way to Research Assisted Living for Your Loved One?
Your aging father is no longer a confident driver. Your mother may find it difficult to manage her household. Or, one of your parents may have had a fall. Whether your loved one’s needs are immediate or in the future, you may be thinking about finding supportive care.
What should families consider when looking for an assisted living facility for their loved one? And, what questions should families ask when researching their options? We asked our own Nora O’Brien, PT, DPT, for recommendations. Nora is the executive director of our nationally recognized assisted living communities, Willow Towers Assisted Living and Willow Gardens Memory Care.
“Start your research early,” Nora advises. “You want to look before there is a crisis. You want to pick the ‘forever home’ for your loved one, knowing their healthcare needs may change. So, if you can, take time to find a community where they can age in place and have their evolving needs met.”
Here are Nora’s top tips for researching assisted living communities:
Consider the “feel” of the community. Visit in person if you can. Look to see if the staff conveys warmth. How does staff interact with you? With each other? With residents? It’s all about finding the community that’s right for you or your loved one. You want to find out if the lifestyle and community are a good fit. We offer virtual tours of Willow Towers and Willow Gardens, which are good places to start.
Review the facility’s licensure and accreditation. For example, Willow Towers and Willow Gardens are licensed New York State facilities with enhanced licensure, which means we offer specialized healthcare services for people with complex conditions and can care for individuals with dementia. These accreditations are important because they allow our residents to age in place even if their healthcare needs change. We’re also part of the United Hebrew of New Rochelle senior care campus, which offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation, should your loved one need advanced care.
Ask about the staff’s tenure. Staff longevity is not something people tend to ask about. Is there a high rate of turnover among staff? We are proud of the fact that the turnover rate at Willow Towers and Willow Gardens is significantly lower than the state and national averages. That shows there’s a consistency of care for our residents.
What makes the facility stand out? Assisted living communities are not federally regulated, so there is a varying degree of quality among them. So, check to see if the facility has received any awards – industry or other recognitions – that measure quality of care and quality of life. United Hebrew took the initiative to apply for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living quality award program and has been recognized for our high quality of care.
Focus on the quality of care and the rest will fall into place, Nora notes.
“The best choice for mom may not be the one closest to your house. Ask yourself if your loved one will be happy. Will she be able to make her own choices, be in charge of her own destiny? If the assisted living community will improve her quality of life, you’ve done well in your research.”