You know your loved one would benefit from the support of assisted living right now, but with COVID-19 there’s so much more to consider. We get it! And we can help with tips on how to research assisted living communities during the pandemic as well as questions to ask to keep your loved one safe.
Are you caring for a loved one yourself? At Vitality, we know it isn’t easy. That’s why we created a resource to help make caregiving days go a little more smoothly. The Caregiver’s Checklist: Supporting an Aging Parent covers a wide variety of topics ranging from creating a safe home environment to how to recognize the signs a senior needs more assistance. Download it with our compliments today!
Consider the Whole Picture
First, be careful not to let your focus on how the community is responding to the pandemic distract you from the whole picture. Yes, COVID-19 precautions are tremendously important, but you also want to make sure that you’re considering assisted living communities that fulfill your loved one’s other needs and wants as well. At the end of the day, the best choice for your loved one is an assisted living community that exceeds your expectations in ALL areas, including COVID-19.
For example, think about your non-negotiables as well as the nice-to-have features your loved one would appreciate. While most assisted living communities offer meals, transportation, housekeeping, home maintenance and activities as standard, consider how important these other options might be:
- Accommodations – Private or semi-private, studio, one- or two-bedroom residences, balcony or patio, full kitchen or kitchenette
- Lifestyle – Outdoor spaces and walking paths, ample social and enrichment opportunities, access to spiritual programs, pet-friendly community
- Care/Wellness – 24-hour onsite nursing, onsite medical such as doctors, physical and/or occupational therapy, ability to accommodate special diets, fitness center, fitness classes
- Safety – One-level living, personal emergency response systems, keypad entry, fall prevention features
Of course, these are just examples so your list may look different, but don’t forget to consider your preferred location as well as budget.
Researching Assisted Living During COVID-19
Now that you have a better idea of what your loved one needs and wants out of assisted living, it’s time to research the options that fit your criteria. It’s best to do so both online and in-person to give you a more robust understanding of what each community offers.
First, search for assisted living within your preferred location(s) then once you’ve identified communities, head to their websites for more information. You can still get an inside look at assisted living communities during COVID-19 because most are offering virtual tours plus links to videos, image galleries, activity calendars and interactive floor plans on their websites.
It’s also a great idea to follow the social media sites of the communities in which you are interested and perhaps even sign up for their newsletters. This will give you a sense of the personality of the community as well as daily life for the residents. Plus, many communities offer helpful resources like our blogs as well as guides, self-guided assessments and even financial calculators to help you make the most informed decisions for your loved one.
While online, make sure to also check for online reviews to gain insight on the reputation of your preferred communities.
Here we’re talking about gaining insight from people who have firsthand experience either in the industry and/or the communities themselves. This could be your loved one’s physician, attorney, financial planner and even their spiritual leader. Also, if you can, speak with some residents and/or their families for the communities you’re interested in.
Certainly, make sure to include other family members (and your loved one!) as you’re considering assisted living communities. No one knows the circumstances prompting the move better and quite honestly, the transition will be easier for the entire family if you’ve collaborated in making the decision. Not to mention, they may have insight you haven’t even considered!
Questions to Ask When Comparing Assisted Living Communities
Once you’ve narrowed your list to two to three assisted living communities, it’s time for a more in-depth comparison. As you virtually tour and/or talk to the staff it’s important that you compare each community on the same criteria AND that you really dig in to how the communities are protecting residents and staff from COVID-19.
- What type of accommodations are offered and what are the cost differences?
- What are the monthly costs for accommodations and care and what’s included?
- What level of daily assistance is provided?
- Is the community clean and inviting?
- Are there ample common and outdoor areas?
- What is the dining program like? Is there a dedicated chef?
- Do they accommodate special dietary restrictions or requests?
- What programs (fitness, enrichment, social, other activities) are offered?
- How often are housekeeping and laundry services provided?
- What amenities are available?
- What training and qualifications do staff members have?
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio both day and night?
- What safety and security features are offered?
- How does the community handle medical emergencies?
- What protocols are in place to protect residents and staff?
- How can residents stay connected to family and friends?
- What is your visitation policy?
- How do you keep residents engaged?
- Will my loved one have to quarantine upon move-in?
- What other protocols are in place for new residents and/or the move-in process?
- How are you keeping families informed on a regular basis?
To learn more about senior living at Vitality, contact us to schedule a virtual tour.