11 Questions to ask when screening a Residential Care Home

Questions To Ask When Screening Residential Care Homes

Searching for a residential-care facility for a loved one can be a laborious and heart-wrenching task. However, knowing what preliminary-screening questions to ask before you begin your search can make all the difference in the care your loved one receives and your own peace of mind. Here are 11 initial questions you should ask to help you decide which facilities deserve a closer look:

1. Does the facility have a waiting list? How long is the wait?

High-quality facilities will typically have minimal openings, if any. In the latter case, the facility may have a waiting list and you will need to know how long the wait will be. The typical problem families run into is they often need to make a placement decision during a time of crisis and aren’t able to wait for an opening.

2. Does the facility have any support services available while you wait for a room?

Some facilities will offer some sort of short-term respite care that may help bridge the gap while you wait for a room to become available. This can also help you become familiar with the facility and staff before you move your loved one in.

3. Does the facility have private or shared rooms and what are the costs of each of the various types of living arrangements?

You may have a strong desire for a private room or want to place both your parents together in a companion-living environment. Typically, nursing homes will have few, if any private rooms and will have two or more patients per room. Conversely, a residential care home will usually have private, shared and companion-living arrangements. Bear in mind that shared rooms are almost universally the least expensive option.

4. What are the facility’s move-in and -out policies?

These are critical questions to ask to determine if your loved one is even eligible to receive care at a specific residence, especially if it is a residential-care facility. There may also be criteria for someone to stay at a facility, such as requiring the patient be ambulatory.

5. Does the facility offer “aging-in-place” care? If so, how are additional services added and what are the added costs?

Aging-in-place care permits residents to remain in the same facility as their condition worsens, with some facilities even providing end-of-life care. However, even facilities that provide end-of-life care may require the patient to move to a different room or wing. Be sure to get full disclosure on the fees for all additional services.

6. How often does the facility evaluate residents to determine changing care needs?

In addition to determining the type of progressive care required, this may be related to the facility’s “move-out” procedure. You need to know how frequently a resident’s care needs are evaluated and who performs the assessment. This will help you decide if the facility is meeting the continuing-care needs of your loved one.

7. Does the facility offer a trial period?

A residential care home may permit a new resident a two-to-four week trial period to allow the prospective resident to decide if the facility is to their liking. This is a wonderful option and can also help bridge the gap if you are on a waiting list. However, bear in mind, it can take an older adult up to three months to totally adjust to a new living situation.

8. Does the facility offer dedicated dementia-care services? If so, what services are provided?

Examples of special services can include a dedicated floor or wing specifically set up for caring for dementia patients. Special care can also include specially-trained staff, activities and programs designed to address various levels of cognitive impairments. This can be a critical topic if your loved one faces special dementia-related challenges.

9. Does the facility offer specialized programs designed specifically for dementia patients?

Programs can vary greatly from one facility to the next. The types of social programs offered will typically depend on the program or activity director, and the level of the persons education in regards to caring for dementia patients. Ask about the program director’s educational background and training in dealing with dementia patients.

10. Does the facility offer medication management? If so, is there an additional fee for this service?

What are the training requirements for the staff that manage the medications? Nursing homes normally manage routine medications at no additional cost. However, a residential care home that provides medication management will typically charge an additional fee for that service. Usually, a licensed nurse will handle the administration of drugs, but be sure to ask!

11. How long has the staff been working at the facility?

High staff turnover rates are common in residential-care facilities, especially in nursing homes. However, any facility that has retained staff for over two years bodes well for both the staff and residents, indicating it is a good place to work and live. Also, a steady staff gives you, your loved one and the staff the ability to get to know one another and establish professional relationships.

Now that you know more about the types of screening questions to ask of residential care facilities taking the next step of contacting and scheduling visits should should be a bit easier.

By Care Homes Direct Editorial Team
Image: Daily Caring

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