English: Southern House Now a long-term care h...

English: Southern House Now a long-term care home, but previously a doctor's residence with surgery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve narrowed down your list, and it’s time to take a closer look at the options.

Good news: you don’t need to schedule your visits in advance. If you show up during regular business hours, you should be able to meet with an administrative staff member, who should be able to answer all your questions.  But you may also want to set aside time to tour a second time (in the evening or on the weekend), simply to see if there is a drastic difference in the atmosphere of the facility or the care being provided.

Lastly, it is very important to tour at least two facilities so you can see the difference in the physical facilities and the staff.

While you are touring the facility, pay attention to your gut feelings.  Ask yourself:

• Do they seem to genuinely care for the residents?
• Is the facility clean?
• Are there any strong odors?
• Is the staff friendly?
Do I feel welcome?
• How long did I have to wait to meet with someone?
• Did the admissions director ask about my family member’s wants and needs?
• Do the staff seem to get along with each other?

Put on your radar, and listen and observe. You want to be sure that the facility is giving proactive care, not just reacting to crisis.

And you’ll want to be armed with some questions, so here are a few examples of the types of questions the staff should be able to answer:

• How do you ensure that call lights are answered promptly, regardless of your staffing?
• If my mother is not able to move or turn herself, how do you ensure that she is turned and does not develop bedsores?
• How do you make sure that someone is assisted with the activities of daily living like dressing, toileting and transferring?
• Can residents bring in their own supplies?
• Can residents use any pharmacy they wish?
• How many direct care staff members do you have on each shift? Does this number exceed the minimal number that state regulations require, or do you just meet the minimum standard?
• What sources of payment do you accept?
• How long has the medical director been with your facility?
• What is your policy on family care planning conferences? Will you adjust your schedule to make sure that I can attend the meeting?

While touring each facility, make notes and …

Don’t Neglect Expert Help.

In addition to finding the facility you like best, don’t forget that you need expert legal assistance as part of the planning process. Without proper planning and legal advice from an experienced firm, many families needlessly squander their life savings on long-term care, and unnecessarily jeopardize their own care and well-being, as well as the security of their family.

If you’d like a recommendation for a caring professional who can help you handle this process with clarity, drop me a note, and I’m glad to pass along some options.

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