Searching for an assisted living facility for an elderly loved one can be a stressful process. You want to ensure that Mom or Dad will get the best care possible, but you’re also aware that the costs can skyrocket rapidly. Carolyn Browne, R.N., B.S., M.A., C.C.M., and Clinical Supervisor of National Accounts at Health Advocate, is just one of many experts dedicated to helping Americans find assisted living. Here are ten things she suggests looking out for:
1) What are the costs? While you want only the best for your elderly loved one, you also have a budget. Will your state’s public programs cover the bill, or should you look into long-term care insurance?
2) What does the monthly fee cover? Add-on fees can add up quickly. Make sure that the basic fee covers essentials such as three meals a day, the dispensation of medications, and basic supplies like adult diapers.
3) Make sure medications are given out by Licensed Practical Nurses. Not all assisted living facilities require that a professional give medications to residents—but they should.
4) What is the frequency of staff rounds? You want to make sure residents are well-supervised. Make sure to ask about the facility’s back-up plan if a staff member calls out sick, as well as the evacuation plan in the event of a fire.
5) Does your loved one have a special condition like Alzheimer’s? If so, you may want to see if the facility has a special wing for residents with that condition.
6) Find out which state agency oversees eldercare. Different states assign different agencies to oversee assisted living, typically Licenses and Inspections or the Department of Health. Whatever the case, chec k with the agency for information on the facility in question. When was the agency’s last survey? Were there any complaints?
7) Does the facility have a contract with a nursing agency? Will Mom or Dad have easy access to Medicare-approved services? Do residents get regular check-ups from nurses after a hospital visit?
8) Check your state’s Medicaid guidelines. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get help from government programs in covering the cost of elder care.
9) Check the facility’s staff. A doctor should be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Also make sure there’s an appointed medical director overseeing the care of all residents, and at least one registered nurse works each shift.
10) Check that the facility has hired enough employees. Browne recommends a ratio of 15 staff for every 80 residents.