Photo courtesy of RJ Lerich Photography
More and more older adults in the Houston area are discovering assisted living and the benefits and peace of mind it provides. Assisted living provides an intermediate level of care which is unlike skilled nursing environments which provide a high degree of nursing care or independent living which provides amenities such as transportation and activities for seniors but no medical assistance.
Assisted living communities can offer accommodations that range from a single bedroom to full apartments. The basic level of care is somewhat consistent. The amenities offered and the quality of the programs and staff distinguish one from another. Once the needs of the individual are assessed and the decision is made that assisted living is the right choice, it is up to the prospective resident, often with the help of their family, to select the community that is appropriate. Of course it is important to determine that all licenses, certifications, and quality policies are in place and in force. Beyond that, it becomes important to compare the communities and their philosophy of resident care. There are companies that provide no-cost assistance in the comparison process such as APlaceForMom.com and CarePatrolOfHouston.com. Also, when visiting a facility, please consider the following:
- What is the demeanor of the residents? Are they interracting with each other and happy?
- Is the facility well-staffed? What are the policies regarding staffing?
- Does the staff treat each other professionally and do they have a warm, caring attitude?
- Were you greeted appropriately and were your questions answered competently?
- How would you rate the appearance of the buildings and grounds?
- Is the decor tasteful and the interior clean and uncluttered? Is it maintained and odor-free?
- Are the floors clean and non-slippery?
- Is the facility well-lit?
- What type of transportation is provided?
- Is housekeeping available and is it included in the cost of services?
- Is there a variety of rooms or apartments? What are the sizes?
- Is there a 24-hour emergency response system and how does it operate?
- Are furnishings provided or can the resident bring their own?
- What type of building security and emergency evacuation plans exist?
- Are television and telephone hook-ups available? Are they included in cost?
- What types of activity are available and is there a physical fitness program?
- What is offered in the way of food service? Is it menu style? Are special foods allowed?
If the staff does not offer the following information, it is appropriate to ask the following questions:
- What is the process of assessing and, periodically, re-assessing a resident's care?
- What ongoing training does the staff receive?
- Are the family and physicians involved in the needs assessment?
- What does a care plan consist of?
- If needs change, what other services are available?
- Is self-medicating allowed? How are medications handled and stored?
- Is there a contract and does it include provisions for all services offered?
- What are the policies regarding termination and how are refunds calculated?
- What programs are available to assist in covering the cost of services?
- Does the staff coordinate visits from health care and therapy professionals?
- What is the structure and qualifications of the medical staff? Does it include a physician?
- Are residents escorted to physician and/or therapy appointments?
There are communities in the Houston area that provide all levels of care, from independent living to skilled nursing care or alzheimer/dementia care. In these communities, the resident can stay in one place as needs change or progress. There are many communities and services to select from; and the costs vary widely. If you are considering a lifestyle that assisted living provides, consider a community that personalizes your care. Taking the time to research and visit several communities can make you more comfortable with your choices and provide the knowledge necessary to choose your new home.