If your parent is ready to move into an assisted living facility, you may already be looking at possible locations that are close to home. While being near at hand is a convenient choice for visiting and socializing, make sure you investigate each facility thoroughly before making your choice. While a lovely apartment, tons of activities and beautiful grounds certainly can sway your opinion between one assisted living community and another, the staff could make or break it. One of the most important parts of the due diligence you’ll do is on the staff who will take care of your parent, yet this is often overlooked. Here are five things to check about staff at an assisted living facility.
- What’s the patient/staff ratio, and how is it distributed?
While there’s no national standard for staff-to-patient ratio, you don’t want your parent to go without help because of a shortage of staff. There may be many employees, but perhaps the majority of them focus on high-maintenance residents, so your best bet it to talk to some folks who already live there to determine whether their needs are being met in a timely manner.
- Do you do background checks on employees?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many assisted living facilities neglect to do background checks on their employees. This should be a deal-breaker, because you don’t want your parent to fall prey to fraud, theft or abuse. If an assisted living facility doesn’t do background checks, cross it off your list of possible choices.
- What level of education is required of staff?
While there are plenty of staff positions – such as housekeeping, food prep and maintenance – that don’t require more than a high school diploma, those staff members directly involved with resident care should have some medical training. Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) should make up the majority of staff caring for residents.
- What training is required?
Besides medical training, a quality facility will require their staff to take classes on other aspects of senior safety. Signs of elder abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, theft and financial fraud are all vulnerable topics for seniors, and staff should be trained to spot and report suspected crimes.
- Are there specialists on site?
The older a person gets, the more health problems arise, so check and see if the facility has an RN or doctor on staff who is readily available to consult with residents on minor health issues. Make sure there’s always an RN on site to respond to emergencies, and see if the facility has a specialist who tracks doctor appointments, medications and other details that are vital to your parent’s peace of mind. Some facilities also employ a physical therapist so residents don’t have to make an outside trip when undergoing rehab for an injury.
Remember, the assisted living facility is taking charge of your parent’s overall safety and health, so don’t be bashful when inquiring about the people who work there. Ask to see licenses, training certificates and other proof instead of taking the word of the person giving the answers. By doing diligent research before choosing an assisted living home for your parent, you can make a huge impact on their future health, happiness and security.