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10 Questions to Bring on Your Senior Care Facility Tour

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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1. Is it easy to arrange for a tour of the facility within a few days?

The facility should openly invite you and all interested family members for a tour. You should expect them to be available to accommodate your schedule and set a date in a timely manner. All key facility personnel should be expected to be available to meet with you.

2. Are you invited and encouraged to stay for a meal?

Having a meal in the dining room is a good way to observe other residents and staff interacting as well as to talk directly with residents and their families. You should be given the opportunity to review daily/weekly menus and the facility's value on sound nutrition. Your senior most likely and with good reason will place his or her importance on having deliciously tasting food.

3. Are you free to talk with residents and other families in an unsupervised setting?

Facility staff should encourage and support communications among residents and families and go so far as to introduce you to them. You should expect to have private unsupervised conversations whenever you choose among them.

4. Are you able to meet the DON (Director of Nursing) and talk with other staff freely during visit?

The DON as the leader of the facility dictates a certain philosophy of care that is conveyed to staff. You should expect this approach to caregiving to be positive as it directly affects your loved one's care in the facility.

5. Are visiting hours flexible? Are there other visitors and do they seem welcome?

You should expect to see other family members visiting loved ones and appear to be comfortable doing so. Staff should be expected to address family visitors by name and with familiarity. Flexible visiting hours are important to accommodate busy family schedules.

6. Are you allowed to make an unscheduled visit and do you feel welcome upon popping in?

A surprise visit to the facility after a scheduled tour is recommended and can often be very insightful. You should feel welcomed with a cordial greeting upon this visit similarly to your planned visit. This outcome of an unplanned visit can sometimes in be the deciding factor when choosing between two facilities.

7. During busy mealtimes, do more dependent residents receive the help they need with eating?

Observe adequate number of caregivers to feed residents that require help and is done timely while meals are still warm and fresh. Drinks should be available to residents during meals and throughout the day.

8. Does staff interact with other residents and each other politely when unaware of your presence?

Quietly listen to caregivers in the facility's common areas as they talk with residents. Notice if you are able to detect a sense of respect and compassion among the staff as they go about day to day caregiving duties.

9. Is the "Daily Events / Activities Calendar" posted and is the facility following this schedule?

The facility should have regular and ongoing daily activities such as exercise classes, arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, music, and pet therapy. Special events with guest speakers, social dances, and holiday celebrations are to be expected as well.

10.Is the most recent State Inspection report (for Nursing Home) posted in facility?

Public posting of state inspection report is required by law. Facilities that do not comply are at risk of penalties/ fines and should be reported.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with over 37 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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