When you and your parent are choosing an assisted living community, it’s easy to see the great features such as roomy apartments, landscaped grounds, and spotless dining rooms. However, some of the most important features may be less noticeable or invisible. Safety is one of the most important factors to consider when searching for an assisted living community, and it’s vital that you not overlook this aspect of your parent’s new home. Here are 10 questions you can ask when evaluating facilities:
Where is the latest inspection report from the state regulatory agency?
According to the Assisted Living Federation of America, assisted living facilities in all 50 states must comply with local building and fire safety regulations, and you have the right to read the latest inspection report. Don’t be afraid to ask the administrator to see a copy of this and any other document pertaining to the records of the facility!
What is the plan for weather emergencies and similar safety threats?
There should be a clear and simple plan in place to ensure the safety of residents during a weather threat such as a tornado, hurricane or flood. Make sure your parent is aware of the plan.
How often do you perform safety drills?
Safety drills are vital in that they not only teach the residents what to do in an emergency, but also help them to avoid panicking if such an event should occur. Ask what the schedule is for drills and whether it’s adhered to.
What steps are taken to ensure my parent will be evacuated during a fire if she is unable to leave the building on her own?
If there is a fire or other disaster, some residents may not be accounted for. Make sure there is assistance available if that occurs.
What safety services and features are available at each level of care?
As your parent ages, their needs will change, and it’s vital for the facility to provide the safety services necessary to meet your parent’s current and future needs.
If a safety, quality-of-care or maintenance issue is reported, how long does it take for the problem to be addressed?
A loose handrail or faulty smoke detector can be life-threatening. Ask to see records of previous issues and note the time it took for the problem to be addressed!
Has your facility won any safety awards?
Awards show that the facility takes pride in its safety and strives for perfection, and safety awards should be prominently displayed. If the answer is “yes,” but you don’t see the awards, ask to see them.
Are there smoke detectors and sprinklers in every area of the facility?
This may sound obvious, but – as in all public facilities – there’s a difference between the minimum required by law and a facility’s goal of complete protection and safety.
Have all staff members been properly vetted? Can I trust the staff?
Sad to say, some facilities have high employee turnover and aren’t too picky about who they hire. Ask what the hiring process is, whether background checks are required, and the level of senior care education each staff member is required to have!
Is there a security plan if my parent becomes disoriented and wanders?
This is important to know even if your parent has no memory loss at the present. A plan should be in place so the facility always knows when a resident is missing or unaccounted for.
Related: A recent survey confirms the benefits of retirement living.