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Choosing an assisted living facility and elderly care.

What to Look for When Choosing a Group Home

You’ve come to the realization and decision that a group home would be the most beneficial location for your loved one. Congratulations, you’ve narrowed the search for an assisted living home considerably.  Exactly which home is best will depend on your loved one’s needs and personality.

Before stepping inside potential homes, take some time to prepare a list of questions and concerns. A list you can modify for your own purposes can be found at ALFA.org http://www.alfa.org/alfa/Checklist_for_Evaluating_Communities.asp. Since there are no centralized federal standards for these small care homes, it’s vital to thoroughly research each potential residence. Ensure all of your questions are answered before making a final decision and consider that these elderly caregivers are now going to be your employees.

Advisors at Priority Placement Services as well as other agencies recommend that you visit a minimum of three homes and as many as five or six since they will vary widely. Always schedule an appointment for your first visit and ask the owner or house manager all of your questions. After you’ve toured several properties and narrowed your choices down, then do unannounced visits at different times of the day. Be sure to be respectful of the other people living in the home, however, and not show up early in the morning or very late at night.

Below are a few things to consider to get your list started.


What you can see:  The physical features

Like buying a new home, you’ll want this new home to meet some basic standards as well. At the top of our lists when looking for assisted living homes for clients are the following considerations. Although some of these might not apply to your loved one now, be sure to contemplate how his or her physical abilities may change over time and whether the home might address them.

·       Is the home clean, free of odors and appropriately heated/cooled?

·       Does the home look kept up or are there repairs that need to be made?

·       Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?

·       Are handrails available to aid in walking?

·       Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?

·       Are floors of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?

·       Does the community have good natural and artificial lighting?

·       Does the community have sprinklers, smoke detectors, and clearly marked exits?

·       Are there any visible signs of insects either inside or outside?


Don’t judge a book by its cover: What’s the care philosophy?

Many people judge residential care facilities by their outside facades and interior glamour. Equally important, if not more so, is the philosophy of care for residents. During visits, be sure to note the attitude of the caregiver. Are they friendly to everyone or just you?  Do they treat other residents with respect? Be sure to ask if the caregivers live in the residence or if they work in shifts. Are they truly listening to your questions and concerns? If not, consider whether you will you be able to effectively communicate with them later on.


Here are a few other questions to ask:

·       What are the experiences of the owners and each staff member? Request references and check them. Remember, you are hiring these individuals for a very important job.

·       Does the community conduct criminal background checks on employees?

·       Does the community train staff on elder abuse and neglect? Is there a policy for reporting suspected abuse?

·       Talk to residents. In addition to asking about their experience in the home, consider whether you will get along with them. Are they clean, dressed and tidy (This is an indicator of the quality of care provided.)?


What about medicine and delivery of health care?

Medicine and its handling and distribution is an important item to inquire about since nearly every resident will have medicines of one type or another. Additionally, maintaining good health and supporting an individual’s independence as much as possible should also be evident when addressing some of the questions below:

·       Does the community have specific policies regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications and record keeping?

·       Are the residents just reminded to take meds, or does the staff administer them? Will prescriptions be filled and picked up by staff?

·       How are health issues managed, including the activities of daily living, such as bathing and toileting? Does the staff make doctor’s appointments?

·       To what extent are ancillary services such as hospice or physical therapy available, and how are these services provided? Are there additional charges for any of these services?

·       Is there an RN on-site at all times? If not, is there an RN advisor or an RN on-site at specific times?

·       Does the community have a clearly stated procedure for responding to a resident’s medical emergency?

·       Is transportation available to medical appointments or outside activities such as religious services?


Who doesn’t like a good meal?

We often take food for granted but the right kind of meal or the availability of certain snacks can really help someone feel at home. Consider asking a few questions along these lines, like the below.

·       Does the community provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days a week?

·       Does the menu vary from day to day, week to week and meal to meal? Can you see a menu?

·       May a resident request special foods, and/or can the home accommodate special dietary needs?

·       Are there set times for meals or can meals be provided at a time the resident requests?

·       Are snacks available? Can residents bring in their own snacks and if so, where are they kept?

·       May residents eat meals or snacks in their room?


A few things we haven’t yet considered

We are all unique individuals and your loved one may have some distinct interests to take into consideration. The topics below might not pertain to your loved one but are posed to help you consider any that might be.

·       Pets: Are pets allowed?

·       Smoking: Is smoking allowed either indoors or outside?

·       Money: Can spending money be managed by the staff?

·       Activities: Does the home coordinate any activities for the residents, e.g. shopping, outings, exercise, games or crafts? If so, what kinds of activities are they and how often are they scheduled?

·       Visitors: Does the community allow a loved one, such as a grandchild, to spend the night? Is there a charge?

·       Departure: What are the most common reasons why a resident may be asked to move out of the community?


Finally, when touring, ask yourself, “Would my loved one fit in here?” Advisors from Priority Placement Services would be honored to help you find the best fit in a group home in the Phoenix metropolitan area for free. Contact us today.


By Cathy Chlarson, May 30, 2016

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Sean Cady

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