QUESTION: I am a caregiver for a family member and currently doing okay but I know in the future I will need to seek placement. What should I look for in selecting a facility?
ANSWER: You are to be commended for looking into placement well in advance of when you are actually going to need this type of care.
Since you didn’t mention what type of care your family member needs let me start with some simple explanations describing the types of facilities you might be considering.
A residential care facility for the elderly, also referred to as a board and care or 6-bed home or an assisted living facility, is a home for persons who can no longer live safely on their own but do not require any type of skilled nursing care. To accommodate patients with special needs many of these facilities have obtained special waivers that allow them to provide dementia and end-of-life care.
An intermediate care facility serves residents who need assistance with their daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, etc. They provide some nursing care though not as much as a skilled nursing facility. Skilled nursing facilities (SNF’s) also referred to as nursing homes, convalescent hospitals and rest homes provide continuous around=the=clock nursing care.
Some SNF’s have special wings specializing in care for those patients who have progressive dementia and are unable to be safely cared for in regular care units.
Also there are psychiatric locked facilities that provide services for persons whose symptoms include challenging behaviors that may include wandering, violence or disruptive behavior.
When evaluating any type of facility there are some specific things that you should consider.
Make sure the facility is properly licensed. Look at the ratio of staff to patients. Is there enough staff to do the job expected of them and do they appear to enjoy their work and treat the residents with respect? Is the staff trained in the areas of care that your family member requires?
Does the facility appear clean and well maintained? Your nose should not be offended by smells of urine or disinfectant. Many times it is easier to evaluate an older facility in this area than a brand new one.
Since meals are an important part of care inspect the kitchen and, if possible, eat a meal. If that is not possible observe a meal period to see if meals are attractively served and arrive at their destination at the appropriate temperature – hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Are patients who have trouble eating assisted with their meals? What type of activities and functions are provided? Are they something your family member would enjoy taking part in?
Is there currently a bed available or do you have to go on a waiting list. Is the facility conveniently located so that you can visit often? Do the current residents look well cared for? Is there good interaction between the staff and the residents?
How much are the monthly fees and will they increase if additional services become necessary. Can you family member remain at the facility for the duration of their life or will they be required to move due to more intense care needed or lack of private funds to pay the cost?
When visiting facilities it is recommended that you take someone with you so that you can discuss what you found. Visit as many facilities as possible and go to each facility more than once. Go at different times to see how conditions might differ during the day or the early hours of evening or at change of shift.
Don’t be blinded by fancy accommodations or new beautiful buildings—look beyond the physical environment. It is the care that is given to each resident that counts.
Monday – November 11 – 9:00 am – Veteran’s Day Breakfast and USO Show – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Event is free – but there is a 4 ticket limit per person. Doors open at 8:30, breakfast at 9:00 and the USO Show at 9:30.
TUESDAY –November 12 – Seminar – Path to Positive Aging Series – “Life –Legal Information for the Elderly” – at Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 497-0189.
WEDNESDAY – November 13 – Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group at Ventura City Hall’s Committee Meeting Room, #202, 501 Poli Street in Ventura. Come enjoy “Holiday Magic and Laughter”. For more information call Patty at (805) 766-6070.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or email (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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