Moving loved ones is never as simple as we’d like. You may think your job is done once the move date for your loved one is set. But your involvement will only continue, as she or he transitions to a new home and adjusts to the new surroundings. Whether nearby or at a distance, you are still one of the primary caregivers, regardless of the living arrangement.
Here’s some suggestions and guidelines that can significantly smooth the transition and promote harmonious living in a retirement or long-term living community.
Planning the move and setting up the new environment:
Most parents benefit more when you provide the actual physical assistance in packing and unpacking rather than your dos and don’ts about what to take and what to leave. Creating a new home can be a highly and potentially emotional process, and ensuring choices rather than issuing mandates about possessions is one method that may foster a better sense of identity and comfort for mom or dad in the new location.
Establishing a familiar environment:
When in doubt about what to take, it may be good to err on the side of hanging on to “stuff” a bit longer, even if space is tight, as it often is in a new setting. Possessions can be discarded later after thoughtful contemplation. Don’t rush these decisions when moving seniors, especially if they seem difficult.
When moving seniors, establishing a familiar environment, rather than buying the perfect new couch or carpet, can ease the adjustment.
Primary point person:
Ask you initial contact, often a marketing director, who your primary liaison person will be. Find out who the main “point person” is. Most of the time, the general manager or the second in command to the top administrator will be that person.
It’s also important that the office staff knows who the primary “point person” within your family is. You want to be clear about whom to contact in case of emergency and who would be the backup to that family member, in case the primary family contact cannot be reached or lives at a distance.
Observe the level of cleanliness and follow your nose:
Does the community feel fresh and clean? Ask how often housekeeping is provided in your personal living space. Ask about laundry procedures. Odours in the property may indicate a lack of cleanliness or a temporary problem. If you find a smell concentrated to one area on your tour this most likely indicates a single, recent incident.
Visit during an activity.
It’s a good idea to try and schedule your tour in conjunction with any community events. Ask the manager if you can watch the activities or even participate. Are the activities and event well attended? Take a look at the community calendar of events. Do they match your or your loved one’s interests? Do the events and activities vary in size and type? Do they include trips and outings away from the community? If it’s important to you and your family, don’t forget to inquire about religious services
Pay attention to staff friendliness:
The attitude and friendliness of the staff are of the utmost importance. Make sure that you observe several staff members interacting with current residents. Do they listen and make eye contact? Make sure you get an introduction to the management team.
Visit the outdoor areas:
While visiting communities, make sure to investigate the outdoor areas that are available for the residents. Does the area feel safe and secure? Does the property house outdoor activities in these areas? Does the staff use the same area for their personal breaks?
Eat a meal at the property:
As with most of us, the dining room experience is very important to seniors. When visiting communities it is important to discuss entrée choice and learn about dinning hours, options and procedure. Ask if you and your loved one can have a meal at the property. Not only is it a great way to sample the cuisine, but it also opens up a great opportunity to meet some of the residents. Discuss what happens if a resident is unable to make it to the dining room for a meal.
Ask security and safety questions:
Safety and security features are very important for the seniors and offer a peace of mind for the caregiver. Make sure the bathrooms are accessible and have grab bars in convenient locations. Ask how the residents contact staff if they have an emergency in their living area. Find out about other safety features available in living quarters and throughout the community. Are there registered nurses on site? How does the community assist or manage resident’s medication needs? Don’t forget to ask specific questions about any other medical needs that must be met for you or your loved one.
Ask questions about personal care:
Discuss bathing options and bathing preferences. It’s a great idea to observe the current residents while visiting communities. Are they clean shaven with well-groomed hair and nails? Are the residents dressed appropriately? Does the staff treat the residents with dignity, respect and a smile?
Get feedback from residents and families:
Ask residents and families, past and present, for their honest opinions about the community.
Ask about move-out criteria:
Ask about specific move-our criteria. Under what circumstances is a resident asked to move out of the community? What type of notice does the resident or caregiver need to give the staff? In many instances a 30-day notice may be required by the property.
Trust your instincts:
Do you imagine you or your loved one being comfortable? Do you feel at ease? Are the staff and residents open, inviting and friendly? Always remember to follow your instincts and your heart!
Seniors today are not the seniors of yesteryear — most live full, active, and balanced lives. So deciding to move into assisted living, senior community, or another type of senior housing can be a confusing process for seniors and their families alike. The process of choosing assisted living communities can be daunting, but fortunately, there are resources that can help you.
The following checklist on choosing assisted living is an excerpt from the Assisted Living Federation of America’s Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Residence.
Take this checklist with you when you tour the different professionally-managed assisted living communities and use it to help you evaluate the services, features, and policies offered by those communities.
- As you arrive at the residence, do you like its location and outward appearance?
- As you enter the lobby and tour the residence, is the decor attractive and homelike?
- Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the residence?
- Does the administrator/staff call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the residence?
- Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
- Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the residence and staff?
- Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
- Are staff members appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
- Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
- Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?
- Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
- Is the community well-designed for your needs?
- Is the floor plan easy to follow?
- Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
- Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
- Does a physician or nurse visit residents regularly to provide medical checkups?
- To what extent are medical services available, and how are these services provided?
- Are handrails available to aid in walking?
- Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
- Are floors made of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?
- Does the residence have good natural and artificial lighting?
- Is the residence clean, free of odours, and appropriately heated/cooled?
- Does the residence have sprinklers and clearly marked exits?
- Does the residence have a means of security if a resident wanders?
NEEDS ASSESSMENTS, CONTRACTS, COSTS & FINANCES
- Is a contractual agreement available that discloses healthcare and supportive services, all fees, as well as admission and discharge provisions? What are the policies for refunds and transfers?
- Is there a written plan for the care of each resident?
- Does the residence have a process for assessing a potential resident’s need for services and are those needs addressed periodically?
- Does this process include the resident, and his or her family and facility staff, along with the potential resident’s physician?
- Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
- Is staff available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
- Can the residence provide a list of services available?
- Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, toileting, using the telephone, shopping, and laundry.
- Does the residence provide housekeeping services in residents’ units?
- Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
- Are pharmacy, barber/beautician, and/or physical therapy services offered on-site?
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