How To Compare Senior Living Communities
As you compare independent living or assisted living communities for your mom, one of your most important considerations will be the management of the community. After all, this team will be responsible for providing the safe, well-managed, and pleasant environment you want for your parent.
Quality management can be seen in the employees who greet and care for your mom—but there are many more “behind-the-scenes” criteria that matter. Among them:
- Regulations and licensing
Many states regulate senior living communities, and communities should either post or make their current license available for you to view. On a regular basis, licensed communities are inspected by their state’s regulatory agency and you also may request to see a copy of the most recent report. In addition, the buildings themselves must comply with local fire safety regulations and building codes as well as other requirements to maintain their operating licenses.
- Financial management
A quality management firm will provide good fiscal management to ensure the ongoing success of the community. That means keeping occupancy levels high, managing expenses and debt prudently, and maintaining resources that keep the community on sound financial footing. (If you are moving to a Life Plan Community, also known as a Continuing Care Community, this report from CARF may provide better insight to the financial structure of this particular type of community.)For your specific financial questions, the community’s business office should be staffed with people who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the residency agreement, from the terms of the contract, to the rules of the community, to rate structures and payment requirements.
Do some online research to learn more about the management companies that are operating the communities you visit. Are they relatively new to the field or have they been serving seniors for years? Are they operating a single community or do they manage many? Each of these factors plays a role in the management of the community.
Staff interactions at the community will tell you many things about the management company. For example, are staff members professional yet personable? Were you and your parent greeted warmly? And do employees appear to get along with each other? Ask about the mix of staff members: Long-term employees can reflect satisfaction with the work environment; younger employees can complement seasoned professionals with their enthusiasm and energy.Staff members and community management should be professional and, even more importantly, accessible. You should be able to meet with the executive director of the community, the head of nursing, or any other staff member who can address your questions.
A quality management team will keep the senior living or assisted living community running smoothly, but also keep it safe and looking nice. The common areas, dining room, halls, and units should be clean and well- kept, with plenty of natural and artificial lighting, smooth floor surfaces, and comfortable temperatures. Attention to everyday safety—such as quickly mopping up a spill in the dining room, replacing light bulbs in a hallway, or keeping a sidewalk free of ice and snow—also is an essential part of community maintenance.
- Resident involvement
Quality management firms often conduct resident satisfaction surveys, and you can ask to see the most recent survey results. Managers use this feedback to respond to resident suggestions, questions, or complaints, as well as to identify areas of improvement in the programs and services the community offers. Many communities also establish resident councils, which allow residents to work alongside the management team to identify opportunities and solutions.
There are many criteria that you can use to compare senior living communities. To help you sort everything out, contact the senior living experts at Life Care Services.