Choosing Senior Living Facility

Choosing Well – A Guide To Finding An Assisted Living Facility – Part 1

Finding an assisted living can be a daunting task. Especially, when smaller cities like Athens, Georgia may have fewer senior living options.

And consider trying to make a decision when you live in a more rural area like Athens suburbs of Watkinsville, Bogart, Jefferson, Statham, Winterville, Commerce, Arcade or Hull? What considerations will need to be made when researching distance and the value of driving a little further to find quality services that will truly benefit a senior in need of more support.

Some beginning questions one might ask are:

  • How do I start?
  • What companies and resources are reliable?
  • What exactly should I be looking for?
  • What is provided for me and for my family?

Care Plans

When someone lives in an assisted living community, there should be a personalized care plan created based on doctor’s recommendations, unique needs, abilities, personal preferences, and health history.

It is extremely important for families to be involved in the creation of the care plan and have a signed copy of it.  The agreed-to plan will be charged to the resident either by an “all-inclusive” higher assisted living rental fee or will be charged as a separate “care fee” paid in addition to the apartment rent; which typically, does include some basic services. The care plan is an outline of sorts specifying “how” a community will provide personalized assisted support.

If you are currently living in an assisted living community you should have a copy and know what’s included in your care plan.  It is recommended that a communities care director review resident care plans on an annual, bi-annual or quarterly basis to ensure residents’ needs and are up to date and families are not being over or undercharged.

Some things to consider:

  • Is the resident or family encouraged to participate in care planning?
  • Are there regularly scheduled care plan meetings and are families informed of this schedule?
  • Is family contacted about changes observed by staff about the resident condition?
  • Are families encouraged to communicate with staff?

Family Support

Some assisted living communities recognize that the resident may not be the only person who needs support.  These insightful communities will make an effort to provide education or consultation services for family members.  This may include support groups, educational workshops, or online offerings inviting families to participate and learn more. Some things to consider when visiting our touring a community:

  • Is there an interest in family members?
  • Are regularly scheduled care partner support groups offered?
  • Does the community provide educational opportunities?
  • Is the family invited and/or encouraged to volunteer or participate in a community activity or sponsored public events like an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser, for example?

State Regulations

Georgia assisted living and memory care communities are regulated by the state and have specific standards, policies, and procedures that must be adhered to.  State regulations require the minimum standard, and it’s important to confirm that your community of choice has created its own policies and procedures that go well above and beyond the required minimum. Orchard Senior Living, and its property Orchard at Athens, exceeds the minimum Georgia standards of care.

Some questions to consider when choosing an assisted living facility are:

  • What type of medical care is provided?
  • Can the resident age-in-place?
  • Is there 24-hour on-site supervision by an RN or LPN?
  • What are the staff to resident ratios and how far above the minimum state requirement are they?
  • Is personal care approached with respect and dignity?
  • Are the unique personality and abilities considered?

Staff Continuing Education

Orchard at Athens is able to offer “Spectrum of Care” support services including 2 memory care options. It might be noted that the state of Georgia requires only 8 hours of training in dementia care.

For anyone who has cared for someone living with dementia, you are aware this is not nearly enough.  Orchard Senior Living considers the training of its team members an imperative priority and is proud to provide ongoing monthly mandatory training for staff by a nationally recognized dementia specialist. Here are some questions to consider with regards to training/education:

  • Does the community see staff training as a priority?
  • Is staff training provided for every new hire?
  • What are the continuing education policies and procedures?
  • Is the staff trained specifically in dementia care?
  • What are the certifications and/or requirements for newly hired staff members?

Resident Staff Relationship

When making a decision about assisted living, resident staff relationships should be your top priority. Look for signs that a community has staff members actively interested and engaged in a relationship with its residents?

Notice the interactions and familiarity of staff and residents with one another. Typically, it will be obvious and easy to see if existing positive relationships exist. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you observe connectivity and emotional support in addition to the necessary physical care support?
  • Senior living has a very high staff turnover.  Ask about leadership and front line staff longevity and retention?
  • Do you notice a relaxed or tense environment? Are residents comfortable, relaxed and involved?  Or distant, quite and not participatory?
  • Is there a planned flow of the day and does it take into consideration individual likes and abilities?
  • Are residents routinely greeted and engaged by staff?

Finding the right living arrangement for your loved one is easier if you know the right questions to ask.  To start the process, have a conversation with your loved one. Make a list of the things that are most important to you and your family members and compare them to the questions and suggestions in this article.

If you have any questions about what to expect from Orchard at Athens, please call now, or email the executive director or community coordinator.  We want to hear from you, would love to get your ideas and feedback, and look forward to confirming if Orchard at Athens can be part of your solution.