Checklist for Evaluating a Senior Living Community

You may be in the process of trying to evaluate several different senior living communities and eventually choose one. Here is a checklist with some ideas for things to check for when touring the communities:

Does the location, outward appearance, and interior decor appealing to you? Are you greeted warmly by the staff? Notice whether the executive director calls residents by name and interacts with them as you tour.

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? Are the residents socializing with each other and appear happy and comfortable? Talk with residents about how they like the community and staff. Would the residents be the type of friends you would enjoy being around? Note the staff members - are they dressed nicely, treat each other in a professional manner, and friendly to you as a prospective resident?

Note the layout of the community - is it easy to follow, and are there accommodations for wheelchairs and walkers? Check for cleanliness, absence of odors, and appropriate room temperature.

Is there a security system in place if residents wander? How large is the security staff, and are the grounds patrolled?

Review the residency agreement. Does it cover all services and fees, including move-in and move-out? Refunds? Transfers? Does each resident have a written plan of care, and how frequently is it reviewed and updated?

Will the community assess your needs initially and on a regular basis? Will you, your family, and community staff, and physician be included in the review? What government, private, or corporate programs are available to help cover your costs? What additional services can be provided if your needs change and are there added costs for the various categories of personal care? Are the billing, payment, and credit policies fair and reasonable? Are you required to purchase renters’ insurance for personal property in your unit? What is the process if you have complaints? What is the policy for storage of medication, assistance with medications, and record keeping of medications administered? Are you allowed to self-administer medication? Will staff coordinate home healthcare visits from a nurse, physical therapist, or occupational therapist, if needed? What is the procedure for responding to a resident’s medical emergency?

Get a list of the personal care services that are available. Does staff provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? Does the community provide housekeeping services? Can you get transportation services on short notice? Does the community provide scheduled transportation to doctors’ offices, the hairdresser, shopping, and other activities?

Do residents have their own lockable doors? Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from inside the apartment? Can you bring your own furnishings for your apartment? Is anything provided in each apartment? What utilities do the apartments have?

What organized activities are provided? Can residents participate in activities outside of the community in nearby neighborhoods? Are pets allowed? Are volunteers allowed to come into the community to hold activities and programs? How are residents encouraged to participate in activities?

Are snacks made available?  Special food requests? Special dietary needs? How many dining areas are available?

Does the community have a special wing or floor for residents with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease?  If so, is it secured? Does the community allow hospice to come in and care for residents? Does the community accept long-term care insurance? Does the community allow family members to spend the night, and, if so, Is there a charge?