Evaluating an Assisted Living Facility

Your selection of an assisted living facility should involve both tours of the places you are considering and extensive conversations with those running the facility. Comparing different facilities to one another can seem overwhelming. Use the checklist of questions below to help you notice important details that can reveal the true quality of a facility and aid you in the selection process.

Note that if you are evaluating assisted living facilities on behalf of a loved one, you should try to involve them in the process and get as much of a sense of their desires as possible. He or she is the one who will actually be living in the facility, and his or her comfort, happiness, and satisfaction is the most important outcome.

In General

  • What is your gut feeling about the assisted living facility both at the beginning and end of your visit?
  • Do the current residents seem happy and satisfied?
  • If you are able to talk with residents or their families about their experience, what do they say?
  • What do you learn when you research reviews and other information about the facility online?

Environment

  • Is the facility clean and free of odors?
  • Is the temperature appropriate?
  • Does the environment feel attractive and comfortable?
  • How many units are in the facility?
  • Does the assisted living facility offer private or shared rooms, or a mix?
  • What common areas are available?
  • Will any features of the community pose a problem for your condition?
  • Are the rooms large enough to meet your needs comfortably?
  • What are residents allowed to bring with them when they move in?
  • What are residents allowed or not allowed to do within their own rooms?

Nature and Quality of Care and Services

  • Does each resident have a written care plan? How often is it reviewed and revised?
  • Who is involved when assessing the resident’s needs? How much say does the resident have?
  • How does the assisted living facility adapt as the resident’s needs change?
  • What services does the facility offer and how often are they provided?
  • Is staff available to assist the residents 24 hour per day?
  • Are special care units available, for example for dementia patients?
  • How often are meals served, what times, and where?
  • How much variety is there in the menu?
  • Does the kitchen accommodate special needs and requests?

Safety

  • Is the facility well lit and does it have clear signage?
  • Are there call buttons in the rooms?
  • Are there safety locks on the windows and doors?
  • Are there handrails in the bathrooms and elsewhere in the facility?
  • Is the carpet firm to assist with walking, and are there non-slip materials on the floor?
  • Is there an emergency generator or another plan in place for power outages?
  • What do the assisted living facility’s fire safety and security systems consist of?
  • What is the plan if a resident wanders off?
  • What is the plan for a resident’s medical emergency?
  • What is the hiring process for new employees? Is there a background check?
  • What are the policies about elder abuse and neglect?

Community

  • Would you or your loved one get along with the assisted living facility’s current residents?
  • How does the staff treat you?
  • How does the staff interact with the current residents? Do they seem to have a good relationship with them and know their names?
  • How do staff members treat each other?
  • Are residents chatting with one another during meals?
  • What organized activities are on the schedule? What activities do you notice taking place? Are they well-attended?
  • Are residents encouraged to attend activities?
  • How much interaction do residents have with the outside community?

Fees and Policies

  • Are you allowed to examine a contract? Does it clearly lay out all services, fees, and policies?
  • How much is the entrance fee and security deposit? Is the deposit refundable?
  • What is the monthly fee?
  • Is long-term care insurance accepted?
  • How does the assisted living facility bill for services?
  • What is the policy on late payments?
  • How are rate increases handled?
  • What if the resident runs out of money?
  • What are the rules for when residents must leave the facility? What are the most common reasons why residents leave?
  • How are refunds and transfers handled?