When you are searching for a senior living community, a key factor to making an informed decision is knowing which questions to ask. While some are more obvious than others—such as availability and costs—others aren’t. If you haven’t been through the process before, it can feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why we created this list of questions to ask senior living communities during your search.
6 Key Questions to Ask a Senior Living Community
- How are team members recruited, screened, and trained?
The quality of the team is a key determinant in the quality of care a senior living community provides. Experience, trustworthiness, empathy, and ongoing training are vital.
Some factors are easier to evaluate than others, such as team member experience and background. Be sure to ask how team members are recruited and screened, and if background checks are conducted. It’s also important to ask what kind of training the senior living community offers, and if team member development is ongoing.
Then there are other traits that are more difficult to evaluate. Empathy and attentiveness are important characteristics of a good caregiver. Does the community recruit and hire for these traits? Ask how they do this.
At Five Star, we believe in behavioral based interviews. We ask questions such as, “Can you tell me about a time that you saw the opportunity to make a positive impact?” These help us to select those with the spirit to serve.
- How Will Your Loved One Spend Their Days?
Support and care are very important – equally important is the lifestyle that your loved one will experience. At Five Star, we believe that everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning. Does the community have a life engagement program with a full complement of choices so that there is something for every interest? Research shows that older adults who have opportunities to engage with the world around them and their peers are healthier and happier, Our Lifestyle360 program is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and features activities centered on the five dimensions of wellness; intellectual, physical, social, emotional and spiritual. Ask to see a calendar. Are the days (including weekends and evenings) scheduled with a variety of selections? When visiting, observe to see if the residents are engaged in the world around them.
- How long is the average team member’s tenure?
Just like the number of team members is important, so is the length of service at the senior living community. When staff turnover is low, residents, caregivers, and families get to know and trust one another. This allows for the continuity of care that is so vital in resident health and wellness.
But caregiving is a difficult role, physically and emotionally. Friendships often develop between residents and caregivers which may lead to difficult losses for team members to experience. The job is also physically demanding—requiring lifting, long hours of standing, and stress. That’s why turnover rates are often higher in senior living communities than in other types of service industries.
- How are changes in a resident’s needs handled?
While no one wants to think about it, the needs of older adults change as they age. It’s important to notice and monitor these changes when they happen. Make sure you ask how each senior living community handles these situations.
For example, suppose a resident develops a serious illness after moving in. Is the community able to provide more hands-on care when it is needed? From transportation to personal assistance, what services are available on campus? Will the senior be required to relocate to receive the care they need? Ask about how the community communicates with loved ones. Moving is a lot of work at any stage in life, but is especially tough for a senior who isn’t feeling well.
- What are the monthly fees and what do they include?
Every senior living community prices their fees differently. Some are all-inclusive, and others have a base fee with care charges assessed separately. This can make things tough for older adults and families trying to compare costs across different communities. When you ask about a community’s rates, be certain to ask what is and isn’t included in that price.
Ask for a detailed list of what services and amenities are included in the monthly fee, and what additional charges you should expect to incur each month. In addition to separate care costs, added charges might include transportation, group outings, beauty/barber shop services, laundry, and pet-related fees.
- Is there a contract that spells out terms?
Another area where things can vary greatly from one senior living community to another is the contract and terms. We think it is very important to understand the Residency Agreement and will explain it in detail.
Be sure the contract spells out how much notice your senior loved one is required to give before vacating, how deposits and entrance fees (if there are any) are handled, and the length of the contract. Ask for an estimate of the yearly rate increases.
Exploring Your Options for Senior Care
If you are an adult child who is not sure about what type of senior living your aging parent needs, this video may be of interest. Researching and Considering Your Options explores every type of solution from in-home care to independent and assisted living to memory care for adults with dementia.
We also invite you to call 1 (888) 586-0514 to talk with a senior care expert who can answer your questions!