What Questions Should You Ask on an Assisted Living Community Tour?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  July 25, 2019
What Questions Should You Ask on an Assisted Living Community Tour?
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Touring an assisted living community for the first time may be intimidating and overwhelming. It can be difficult to know what to look for and what to ask on your visit. While a grand piano in the lobby and plush drapes are nice features, making a good decision means learning about the community’s quality of operation and care.

Here are a few questions that can help you better understand both.

8 Questions to Ask During an Assisted Living Community Tour

1. How does the community hire and train caregivers?

Delivering quality care requires experienced, compassionate caregivers. Be sure to ask how team members are recruited and screened. Background checks are a must.

It’s also important to ask what kind of training team members undergo. How comprehensive is initial training for new employees? Training shouldn’t stop after orientation. Inquire about ongoing staff development training programs, too.

2. What is the staff turnover rate?

When staff turnover is low, residents, caregivers, and families have an opportunity to get to know and trust one another. This promotes better continuity of care. But caring for older adults can be difficult on several levels.

The job can be physically demanding. Lifting residents and heavy equipment, as well as long hours on your feet, can take a toll on the body.

Caregiving can also be emotionally challenging. Befriending an older adult and witnessing their health decline isn’t easy. Yet staff members do it throughout their careers.

That’s a leading reason why the staff turnover rate is higher in assisted living and memory care communities than in other industries. A high staff turnover rate, however, may (or may not) have an impact on your loved one’s experience.

3. What is the staff to resident ratio?

One factor that greatly influences the quality of care and service provided at an assisted living community is the number of experienced caregivers. When an assisted living community has a suitable number of caregivers, they have time to get to know their residents. This relationship allows them to identify potential problems early so the appropriate next steps can be taken.

4. What happens when a resident’s needs change?

While adult children don’t want to imagine the worst, it’s important to look ahead. Ask the staff member who conducts your tour what will happen if your loved one’s care needs change.

For example, how would the community respond if the senior develops dementia or is diagnosed with an illness like Parkinson’s disease? Can they get more help at the community, or will they need to relocate to a nursing home or dementia care center? Moving isn’t fun at any age, but it is especially difficult for a senior whose health is declining.

5. Can you review a copy of the community’s state survey results?

Each state regulates assisted living communities a little differently. One thing they have in common, however, is annual surveys to ensure the community is complying with state laws.

Anyone can review the results of scheduled surveys and those conducted due to a resident or family complaint. Many states make these available online, typically on the Department of Aging website. If your state doesn’t, ask where you can review the community’s survey results.

6. What is—and isn’t—included in the monthly fee?

Because each community prices fees differently, this is a very important question to ask. Some communities include all care, services, and amenities in one bundled price, while others have a base fee with additional charges for care and sundries.

These differences can make it tough for seniors and their family members to compare the true cost of one assisted living community with another. Ask for a detailed list of what is included in the monthly fee and a list of additional expenses you should expect to incur each month.

7. How often do monthly fees increase?

As is true of any business, operating expenses increase. Caregivers earn raises, the cost of supplies go up, and utilities and food costs increase. Ask how often rates typically change and how much notice you will be given.

8. What are the legal requirements?

If you think the community might be a good fit, ask for copies of any legal documents you would be required to sign if you decide to move forward. Take time to review each one and make a list of follow-up questions.

Pay close attention to how deposits are handled, what the length of the contract terms are, and how much notice you will be required to give if your senior loved one wants to move. If possible, have an attorney with elder law experience review the documents to identify any potential concerns.

Pay Attention to Relationships

One final tip to keep in mind as you tour an assisted living community is to pay attention to the interactions between staff and residents. Are interactions positive and friendly? Are residents happy and engaged in productive activities or conversations? Do staff members greet residents by name? Facial expressions and body language tell a story, so be mindful of those during your visit.

Our Door Is Always Open to Friends

No matter what stage you are at in the search for an assisted living community, we invite you to visit Sunrise. Contact us to schedule a time for a private tour of a community near you!