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A Second Opinion Never Hurts When Selecting A Senior Living Community

There are many occasions when my clients hire me as a second set of eyes and ears once they have completed the first round of tours at senior living communities. Most of the time my clients are in emergency situations. Sometimes they have selected a community and are prepared to act upon their decision, but they use me as a sounding board for their concerns. Here are two example situations where my clients were unaware of the types of questions they should have been asking:

Real-Life Story 1

My client was looking to place a loved one in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (a community that has independent living, assisted living, and a skilled nursing home all on one campus). In my client’s opinion, the senior was currently at the independent living level. I had not yet met the senior, so therefore I was unable to verify that assessment. However, during our conversation, there were indications of some health concerns that made me suspicious that the senior was more appropriate for assisted living. The client had toured a large number of senior living communities and was leaning toward selecting one in particular. I indicated to my client that if the senior was to enter at the independent living level, that was fine. But, I had knowledge that the assisted living area had a ratio of Certified Nurse Assistants to Residents of 1 to 20. Such a ratio is not acceptable for a community that is delivering a large amount of hands-on care to its residents. I advised my client to question the Admissions Director about the ratio I shared with my client.

The response from the Admissions Director was that while the ratio was 1 to 20, if you also counted in the Director and Assistant Director of Assisted Living, housekeepers, activity staff, nurses, and nurse managers, the ratio was 1 to 10. My answer is, “No, it isn’t.” While a ratio of 1 to 10 in assisted living is not bad, not all of the people on the Admissions Directors list are trained (e.g., housekeepers) to handle 1 on 1 care, nor would such staff members engage in it on a regular basis because they have their own duties to attend to.

Real-Life Story 2

My client had placed a loved one in a high end independent living community. The senior loved one began to develop memory issues where she was wandering and getting lost. The senior needed to be in a secured, assisted living memory care unit. The client was already completely “sold” on a relatively new, high end assisted living memory care community. I questioned if the client had asked what the ratio of assistants to residents was. The client quickly responded 5 to 1, which is fine for assisted living memory care. But, I knew that since the community was new and not full yet, there were only 13 residents currently living there out of a potential capacity of 40.

I advised the client to return to the community and ask if that ratio was to be maintained when the memory unit was full, and to ask what the ratio is at night. Many communities reduce the staffing at night, assuming the residents are asleep. Residents of memory communities who exhibit symptoms of “sundowning” (more confusion and restlessness in the mid to later afternoon) require adequate staff to engage the residents at night.

Do you need a second opinion? Let Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors help. Call us at (708) 415-2934 or email us. Please visit our website. Please watch my video to learn how the process works and learn what some clients have to say.

Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
1497 Shire Circle
Inverness, IL 60067
Phone: 847.934.5303
Cell: 708.415.2934