By Ann Walsh, Regional Vice President of Operations Healthcare for Volunteers of America National Services
Making an informed decision is the best practice for many journeys in life.
When touring a community, no exceptions should be made when it comes to asking all the right questions. It’s important to have all possible answers as you prepare to make the transition into senior living and to learn as much as possible about your potential future home.
Your visit might be led by a designated tour guide, a director, a caregiver, or even a resident, but no matter who it is, they should be able to answer your questions or direct you to somebody who can.
To lend you a helping hand, Gulf Coast Village has curated a list of the most important questions to ask during your visit. Separated into important categories, this guide is a helpful tool to bring with you, so you don’t miss the opportunity to address important questions while you are touring the communities.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a senior living community is to make sure that the community cares for and properly provides for its residents. Questions you should ask include:
- How many residents live in this community?
- Are activities available for residents? If so, how often? Is there a resident event calendar each month?
- What type of future care options do you offer (memory support, skilled nursing, etc.)?
- Are health services, such as rehabilitation, provided onsite to residents?
- How can families be involved in the community? Can they stay with me? Can they dine with me?
- Are professional led exercise opportunities available?
- Do you have in-house therapy, or is it outsourced?
- How do you accommodate couples?
- Do you offer religious services?
- Is there a waitlist? If so, how long is it?
- How are residents involved in the community? Do you have an ambassador program or resident council?
- Do you have regular community wide meetings for communication with residents?
Next, consider staffing. Questions to consider are:
- What is the resident to staff ratio in your healthcare?
- Do staff members go through a background screening process prior to employment?
- What type of training do you give your staff prior to joining the team?
- Are staff on-site 24/7? Is a nurse on site in healthcare 24/7?
- Are any of the departments outsourced? If so, to what company?
In the event of an emergency, whether it is health-related or not, you and your family will want to know that you asked the right questions and are fully informed of what’s to come. You may want to ask the following questions about safety and emergency services:
- What is the standard procedure for a medical emergency?
- Do you offer assistance with personal needs in independent living?
- Is transportation available? Will I be able to easily and safely get to my off-campus appointments, or will I need to arrange my own transportation?
- Is there security on-site?
- How close is the nearest hospital?
- What is your hurricane protocol? Will the residents need to evacuate in case of a hurricane?
Senior living is a financial commitment. Get a better understanding of the financial aspect of prospective senior living communities by asking these questions:
- Will my monthly fee ever increase? If so, will I be given notice?
- What is included in the monthly cost?
- Are there any additional costs, such as internet or maintenance costs?
- What types of payment are accepted? ACH, credit card, private pay, long-term care insurance, Medicaid?
- Will I be able to appeal cost adjustments that impact me?
Dining may not be the focus of the tour, but it is just as important as all other aspects of the senior living experience. Consider asking these questions:
- What is the dining experience like?
- Are there accommodations for dietary restrictions?
- How often are meals? Do you have designated seating?
- Is there anywhere on-site that I could get snacks between mealtimes, like a café or shop?
- Can I try the food during my tour?
- Am I allowed to cook meals in my residence?
If you feel inclined, you may also request to speak with a current resident or their family for a personal and honest perspective.
Finding the right community can be a long journey, but it doesn’t need to be an impossible one. To schedule a visit to Gulf Coast Village, please visit GulfCoastVillage.org/Contact.
About the Author
Ann Walsh is Regional Vice President of Operations Healthcare for Volunteers of America National Services, the sponsoring organization for Gulf Coast Village, The Preserve and Senior Choice at Home.