The COVID-19 pandemic has made assisted living community tours a little different. While some areas can accommodate in-person tours with precautions, others are relying on virtual tours to give families a look at community life. Whatever type of tour you embark on as you begin your search, there are some important questions to ask.
Preparing a list ahead of time will make it easier to take notes and ensure you don’t forget to ask something vital. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
8 Key Questions to Ask about Assisted Living
1. How does the community hire, screen, and train team members?
The quality of care an assisted living community provides is dependent upon the quality of its team members. Does the company hire for empathy and train for excellence? Recruitment is the first step, so ask where the company finds its staff.
It’s also essential to learn about the community’s training program. While most companies have an established onboarding program, what happens after that? How often do team members receive more training to keep their skills updated?
2. What is the community’s turnover rate?
Caring for older adults isn’t easy, physically or emotionally. Empathetic caregivers experience burnout, so it’s understandable that staff turnover rate is higher in the senior living industry. A turnover rate that is too high, however, may be a sign of poor management.
The same holds true for residents. Ask how long resident tenure is and how many residents move to another community in a typical year.
3. How much time do caregivers spend with each resident?
Another vital piece of information is the community’s caregiver-to-resident ratio. When an assisted living community is well staffed, caregivers aren’t rushed and residents typically receive better care. That’s because team members get to know each resident better and are able to recognize small health changes early.
4. What happens when a resident’s health changes?
As residents grow older, their needs change. Some communities are more equipped to handle those changes than others. Make sure to find out what happens if your loved one’s care needs change after they move in. Does the community offer an enhanced level of assisted living? Or memory care for adults with dementia? If not, will your family member need to move again? Moving can be especially tough for a senior whose health is declining.
5. What does—and doesn’t—the monthly fee include?
If you’ve just started searching for an assisted living community for a friend or family member, you’ve likely discovered a vast difference in pricing structures. It makes it tough for families to objectively compare the cost of different assisted living communities.
To make sure you are comparing apples to apples, ask each community for a list of what is included in the monthly fee. Then ask what additional expenses you should expect each month. It’s the best way to be sure you are making an informed decision.
6. How often do monthly fees increase?
Like any business, the cost of operating an assisted living community increases. Salaries, food costs, utilities, and insurance are just a few expenses that increase almost every year.
Make sure you understand how often monthly fees increase and how much notice you will be given. Ask if there is a cap on how much fees will go up in any given year.
7. Where can you find state survey results?
Every state regulates assisted living communities differently, but they all conduct surveys to ensure rules are being followed. Ask the salesperson or executive director where you can review the community’s state survey results. Some states publish them online to make them easier to access.
8. How is the community handling concerns about the coronavirus?
We would be remiss if we didn’t encourage you to ask how the community handles concerns about COVID-19. It’s a serious issue that disproportionately impacts older adults.
Along the same lines, find out what plans are in place for other types of emergencies. Tornadoes, floods, and other severe weather events require detailed preparations.
COVID-19 Precautions at Five Star
From the earliest days of the COVID-19 crisis, Five Star has taken every precaution to keep residents safe. We also welcome questions. Call the Five Star community nearest you to talk with a team member today!