10 Tips to Consider When Selecting a Facility in Difficult Times

Selecting a Facility : 10 Tips to Consider When Selecting a Facility in Difficult Times

"Difficult times" of course has 2 meanings these days.  It is always a difficult time when it comes time for you or a loved one to enter an assisted living or CCRC facility. Emotions will run high and nerves will be on edge.  But here in the longest recession ever experienced by the baby boomer generation, the nursing home, assisted living, and CCRC industry is also having difficult times. And if you are not careful, their difficulties could become yours.

Ten Tips for Selecting an Assisted Living (or other) Facility in Difficult TImes

1. Research the financial health of the facility. If you are not qualified, hire your accountant or financial advisor to do it for you.  You don't want to buy in just before problems break out.

2. Check the fine print of the legal contracts. Again, a lawyer of financial advisor should look at these.

3. What would happen in a merger. Troubled facilities often merge with or are sold to a new owner. In one case we are familiar with, the new owner wanted to take resident deposits/reserves out as cash.


4. Check the safety and inspection records of the facility. This is easy to do at sites like Medicare's, or just ask the facility for their inspection record.

5. Ask for and check references. Prepare questions and talk with the references. You can find out a lot just in conversation about the trends and overall health of a facility.

6. Visit the facility at different times. Are professional staff on duty? Do you see residents who are not well-attended to? Is there a full slate of activities? Are the meals good and have some variety.

7.  How flexible is the facility. If you are your loved one wants a special kind of entertainment, will they get it for you. How about meal times and support from the staff.

8. What about extra charges. We continue to be amazed at how high a resident's bill can get  when services that seem to be implicitly covered turn out to be "extras".  For example, if your elder cannot spend the night by him or herself for whatever reason - you will have to hire extra care. Likewise if toileting is a problem, or if dementia means the resident becomes aggressive and regular staff can't handle them.  Ask the facility for a list of needs that would require extra care - and be prepared. Even in CCRCs, where it is usually assumed everything is covered, extra charges can be frequent and high.

9. What kind of testing is required of the staff. What kind of testing is done (and training) before they are hired. Florida is just one state putting in new laws to keep drug addicts and molesters out of eldercare facilities.

10. Trust your instincts. If your relative doesn't  like a certain care giver, there is probably a reason. Watch the staff in action.  Are they truly friendly to the residents, or merely patronizing. Many workers are making minimum wage, so selection is very important.

For further reference:
CCRCs and Problems

Met Life Consumer Guides