Researching Senior Living Communities: An Insiders Perspective
Having worked in Senior Living Sales for 10 years, at 11 different Senior Living Communities, I have gained knowledge on what one should look for when considering which option is best for them.
Focus on more than the person giving you the tour
Whether you call and schedule an appointment to tour communities first or drop in unannounced, you will want to focus on more than whether or not you like the person giving the tour. Most clients I have given a tour to over the years have largely based their decision on whether they liked me and if I seemed knowledgeable about senior living as well as being able to answer all their questions. It is very important when you arrive at the community to first see if the concierge/front desk receptionist notices your arrival in a timely manner and is friendly & welcoming.
Pay attention to whether Residents interact with one another & with the staff
As a sales person giving tours, I made a point to introduce those I was touring to residents and staff. I was sure to introduce the resident or staff by name to show that we know and care about one another. As you are taking a tour pay attention to whether other staff is interacting with residents or are they merely walking by residents without even saying hello. Also, be aware of whether residents are socializing with one another as this will tell you whether it is a welcoming place to live and one where you or your loved one will make new friends.
Look at the Activity Calendar & check in on the activity(s) taking place when you are there
Depending on the time of day, there may be one or more activities going on at the time of your tour. Make sure to take a look at the activity calendar at the beginning of your tour to find out what activities are taking place at that time and the location of the activity(s). As you are touring, see if the activity(s) are being lead and how well attended they are. If the activity(s) on the calendar is not taking place at the time and place it is stated on the calendar, that could indicate the activity director is not doing a very effective job of motivating residents to attend or is not ensuring activities on the calendar are executed.
Try a meal or two
If your tour is during a meal time, stay and try the food. Food is one of the most important factors in considering a move. Food choices, quality and nutrition will improve your overall health and well being. Meal times are another time during the day to socialize with other residents. In addition to trying the food, look at the plates of those eating around you to see if their meals look as satisfying as yours and listen to hear if they say whether they are pleased with their meal. I highly recommend coming back for another meal or two to get a better idea of how consistent the food quality is and to try other items on the menu. A community with a decent budget should have 2 entree choices for lunch and dinner, as well as items on the menu that are available all the time if you are not wanting the specials of the day. If a community only offers 1 or 2 choices that could indicate a tight budget and would cause me to question where else they may be cutting costs.
Speak with residents
The best advice I gave, to those I was touring, is to speak with as many residents as possible to ask them if they are happy living there. Don’t base your decision to move to a community in only speaking with the sales person and one or two residents. I can’t tell you the number of times I was giving a tour and here came the least happy resident and yes they did tell those I was touring not to move to that community even though the majority of the residents were very happy living there. Or on the contrary, some of the communities I have worked in had many unhappy residents and those touring would not know unless they spoke to the residents. So be sure that if you hear good or bad feedback from one or two residents, that you verify that information with at least a few more residents.
Number of different care staff on duty
If you are touring Assisted Living or Memory Care communities, pay attention to how many different caregivers you notice in the hallways or in the med-room. You should also ask how many caregivers and med-aides are on duty at each shift but don’t base your decision purely on the number of staff members. Many communities base the number of care staff on duty with the acuity level/needs of the residents. If there are many higher care residents, say 65% of the residents needing a lot of assistance, then the staffing ratios should reflect that. For example, if there are 80 Assisted Living apartments and they tell you there are only 2 caregivers on day shift you either have to assume there are a lot of lower acuity residents or they are not appropriately staffed. In addition, is the care staff serving meals or are there separate dining waitstaff bringing you your meals? If I had a choice, I would not want the person who was helping give residents showers and assistance using the toilet to then serve me my food.
Researching and finding the best Senior Living Community for you or a loved one is a difficult decision and very time consuming. Senior One Source can provide you with local cost free, hassle free, worry free and search free information on which community best fits you or a loved ones needs.
For Cost Free guidance and advice on Senior Living Communities contact your local Trusted Senior Living Advisor here.
Article written by Kelley Rogers: Trusted Senior Living Advisor with Senior One Source