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Senior Living Checklist
Use this checklist from the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) when visiting an Assisted Living Residence:
- Good location and outward appearance.
- Attractive and homelike décor.
- Residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable.
- Residents seem to be appropriate house mates for you or your loved one.
- Staff are appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing.
- Staff members treat each other in a professional manner.
- Visits with the residents are welcome at any time.
- Community is well designed for residents’ needs.
- The floor plan is easy to follow.
- Doorways, hallways, and rooms are accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers.
- Elevators are available for those unable to use stairways.
- Hand rails are available to aid in walking.
- Cupboards and shelves are easy to reach.
- Floors are of a non-skid material and carpets are firm to ease walking.
- Has good natural and artificial lighting.
- Is clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled.
- Meets local and/or state licensing requirements.
- Has sprinklers and clearly marked exits.
- Has a means of security if a resident wanders.
Needs Assessments, Contracts, Costs, And Finances
- A contract agreement is available that discloses health-care and supportive services, all fees, and admission and discharge criteria.
- There is a written plan for the care of each resident.
- Residence has a process for assessing a potential resident’s need for services and for ensuring those needs are addressed periodically.
- The process includes the resident, his or her family, and facility staff, along with the potential resident’s physician.
- Staff is available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs.
- Billing, payment and credit policies seem fair and reasonable.
- Ask these questions about contracts and payments:
- When may a contract be terminated and what are the refund policies?
- Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
- Are additional services available if the resident’s needs change? If so, is there a procedure to pay for additional services like nursing care when the services are needed on a temporary basis?
- Are there different costs for various levels or categories of services?
- Are residents required to purchase renters’ insurance for personal property in their units?
- Determine whether residents can handle their own finances with staff assistance if able, or if a family member or outside party should be designated to do so.
Medication & Health Care
- Residence has specific policies regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications, training and supervision of staff, and record keeping.
- Is self-administration of medication allowed?
- A staff person is available to coordinate home care visits from a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, etc if needed.
- Staff is available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgement losses.
- A physician or nurse visits the resident regularly to provide medical checkups.
- Residence has a clearly stared procedure for responding to resident’s medical emergency.
- To what extent are medical services available and how are they provided?
- A list of available services is provided. Staff is available to provide 24-hour service with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed. ADLs include:
- Hygiene and grooming
- Bathing, toileting, and incontinence
- Using the telephone
- Residence provides housekeeping services in residents’ units.
- Residence provides transportation to doctor’s offices, the hairdresser, shopping, and other activities desired by residence.
- Are pharmacy, barber/beautician and or physical therapy services offered on site?
- Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
Individual Unit Features
- Different sizes and types of units are available.
- Are units for single and double occupancy available?
- Do residents have their own lockable doors?
- 24-hour emergency response system is accessible from the unit.
- Bathrooms are private with accommodations for wheelchairs and walkers.
- Residents can bring their own furnishings for their unit. What may they bring?
- Do all units have a telephone and cable TV?
- How is billing for those services handled?
- Is a kitchen area/unit provided with a refrigerator, sink, and cooking element?
- May residents keep food in their units?
- May residents smoke in their units? In public places?
- May residents decorate their own units?
Social & Recreation Activities
- There is evidence of an organized activities program, such as a posted daily schedule, events in progress, reading materials, visitors, etc.
- Do residents participate in activities outside of the residence in the neighboring community?
- Do volunteers, including family members, come into the residence to help with or conduct programs?
- Does the residence create a sense of community by requiring residents to participate in certain activities or perform simple chores for the group as a whole?
- Are residents’ pets allowed in the residence? Who is responsible for their care?
- Does the residence have its own pets?
- Do dining room menus vary from day to day and meal to meal?
- Three nutritionally balanced meals are provided each day, seven days a week.
- Are snacks available?
- May a resident request special foods?
- Are common dining areas available?
- May residents eat meals in their units?
- May meals be provided at a time a resident would like or are there set times for meals?
In addition to this checklist, look for a general philosophy of care based on 10 principles that make assisted living residents the top priority.
- Offering cost-effective quality care personalized to the individual’s needs.
- Fostering independence for each resident.
- Treating each resident with dignity and respect.
- Promoting the individuality of each resident.
- Allowing each resident choice of care and lifestyle.
- Protecting each resident’s right to privacy.
- Nurturing the spirit of each resident.
- Involving family and friends in care planning and implementation.
- Providing a safe, residential environment.
- Making the assisted living residence a valuable community asset.