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When Touring Continuing Care Retirement Communities You Need to See All Levels of Care

I remember fifteen years ago when I started as an Admissions and Marketing Director in the senior living industry, my future boss took me on a complete tour of the community. Or so I thought.

The community included independent living, where most of the seniors were well off mentally and ambulated with, at worst, a cane. The next level of care was assisted living, which at the time was an extension of independent living. But, the residents at that level received “standby” assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, eating, and walking. At worst, seniors there ambulated with the help of a walker. No wheel chairs were allowed. Last, there was nursing home level, or the dreaded fifth floor that was reserved for residents who could no longer function at the independent living or assisted living level. Most were in wheel chairs and needed total assistance with their activities of daily living. Or, some suffered memory impairment and were at risk for wandering. The fifth floor was equipped with a security code for the elevator and an alarm for those residents who might attempt to leave unattended.

When my boss conducted the tour, he showed me the independent living and the assisted living areas, both of which were places where the residents appeared to be happy. However, after I began working there, I was sent to complete a task on the fifth floor where the residents needed total assistance with everything. Being new to the industry, I was like many of my clients taking a tour of a nursing home for the first time. I was nervous and terrified! I rushed down to my boss’s office and told him that I was exceedingly upset that I was not told that the fifth floor existed. As time went on, I grew to love the residents on the fifth floor. There we were encouraged to take a break from the regular tasks of the day, attend scheduled activities, or just talk.

From this early experience I learned many things, including how to evaluate a nursing home that is well run. The community where I first cut my teeth as a senior living expert never received anything except a perfect score from the Illinois Department of Public Health during its annual inspections. The place was nothing exceptional to look at from a merely aesthetic point of view. The same eastern European women were still working there since the doors opened in 1952. But, the women kept the facility and the residents scrupulously clean and the care was excellent. The Activity Director was a genius at creating interesting activities. Therefore, I made it a point to take prospective families on client tours of the fifth floor, so they could see where their loved one might end up and how he or she would be cared for.

I have observed several communities where the care is great in independent living and assisted living levels of care, but awful in the skilled care area. Uncompassionate staff, an inept administrator, lack of interesting activities, lousy food, and unclean surroundings can add to an already unpleasant experience for a loved one. Therefore, obtaining a full tour and complete picture prior to selecting a particular community is essential. And don’t forget, nothing is consistent in the long-term care arena. Things can change overnight. That’s when you need to have someone evaluate the cost and methods of payment accepted, levels of care, quality of care, staffing, cleanliness, and other quality of life factors such as food, housekeeping, and activities. That’s where ADSLA expertise can help!

For all of your senior living needs, contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors. 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