Transitioning into an assisted living facility can be challenging and amidst the many emails and site visits required to choose the right assisted living facility, some families fail to see clear red flags and ultimately place their aging family member in an uncomfortable or even unsafe situation.
If you are searching for an for your elderly parent or loved one, here are some warning signs that should not be overlooked. While assisted living facility ratings can help you see how different facilities stack up on important measures like staffing, nothing beats visiting places in person, experts say. Here are 5 signs that a facility isn’t right for your loved one.
High Rate of Staff Turnover
A high rate of staff turnover can be an important warning sign. When consulting with potential assisted living facilities, ask about their key staff members and how long they’ve been working there. Does the staff seem happy when you ask them questions about their work? The atmosphere at an assisted living facility can reveal a lot about the quality of care provided there. If an assisted living facility is little more than a revolving door for caretakers, think twice about placing your loved one there.
Safety and security red flags
One of the most common reasons families decide that aging loved ones are better off in an assisted living facility than in their own homes is safety. Unfortunately, there are still safety hazards present in many assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes should monitor their facilities by video, require that visitors present photo identification upon check-in, and have adequate security measures in place to make sure that residents do not leave the facility on their own If you can walk directly to residents’ rooms without having to check in with a staff member, or if you see tripping hazards in hallways, these could be indications that resident safety is not a high priority for a community. Also ask how the facility prevents falls, a major danger for elderly people.
Poor lighting in main areas
One of the leading causes of injury to seniors in assisted living facilities is falls. Make sure that the lighting in your loved one’s living areas is neither too dim or too bright. Dim lighting can lead seniors to trip over obstacles and fall. Lighting that is too bright is just as dangerous – it may obscure hazards that cause elderly people to get hurt. If you have concerns about the lighting in your loved one’s facility, speak with a manager about options to improve the situation. The fix may be as simple as placing an additional lamp in the room or changing a light bulb.
Research shows that an important element in providing optimal person-centered care for skilled nursing facility and assisted living residents is to enhance the environment in which they live. One way to do this is by reducing noise. When you walk through a nursing home’s doors, don’t just look – listen. “How noisy is it?. Usually, the higher-functioning organizations tend to be much calmer and not as chaotic. One historical mainstay of the institutional systems are the old intercom-based nurse call systems that disrupt sleep patterns and present non-comforting distractions for those with dementia, causing unease and confusion when the goal is to make the facility a familiar, comforting community. There are newer systems that avoid regular disruption, and improve the sound quality of the facilities. Make sure to check the current setup when touring facilities.
How staff and residents interact speaks volumes about life at a long-term care facility. Do the nurse assistants – the “backbone” of resident care, Ejaz says – know the residents’ names? Do they respond promptly? Does the respect go both ways? Staff members who talk more to each other than to the residents is another red flag, adds David Gifford, AHCA’s senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs.