Selecting a New Home
Selecting a New Home
A Guide for Finding Your Next Home
When you are faced with the job of finding a retirement home for yourself or loved one, the question often asked is "Where do I begin?"
First decide what type of care is needed, if any. Retirement homes and communities are for mature persons in relatively good health who have minimal care needs but cannot, or do not want, to be in their own homes. They provide an opportunity to socialize while maintaining privacy, dignity and independence. Residents can usually bring some of their own furniture, and some locations even allow small pets. Meals, weekly housekeeping and recreational programs are generally included in the monthly cost; other services such as medication assistance, personal bathing assistance and foot care can usually be provided on a fee-for-service basis.
It is crucial as a first step that the family and/or potential resident decide what's most important to him or her in looking for a facility. Retirement and residential care homes vary in location, size, price, accommodation, amenities, staff, programs and services. The mix of staff and residents also contributes greatly to the "personality" and service level of each place. While budget is always an important factor, make sure that the environment is one in which you or your family member would feel at home.
Decide what is mandatory or most important to you and other things on which you will be flexible.
The next step is to identify two or three facilities in your chosen area that meet the criteria you established above. You can do this in a number of ways:
If placement is urgent, due to illness or hospitalization, consult your hospital Social Worker or Discharge Planner for assistance.
- If placement is "down the road" and you have time, call the facilities and ask them to send you their information packet including an activity calendar, newsletter and a menu.
- Many people ask friends and families that have gone through the same thing for referrals. However beware of this. Nobody else can say which is the best place for someone else's loved one. Every facility is different and every person's needs are unique. Add the names to your list, but make sure you rate the facility according to your own checklist of needs and wants.
Get ready to tour the facilities you have chosen and go with a list of questions. You should be able to meet with the administrative staff that will answer all your questions. Keeping notes and checklists of services and building amenities available will enable you to compare facilities. If there is an area you would like to look at that isn't on the tour, ask to see it anyway.
Gaining a strong "feel" for each place will help you choose the residence best suited to you or your family's needs and interests. It's important to look beyond the physical structure and spend the necessary time to ask questions, talk with people and generally "sample the product."
- Did you feel welcome?
- How long did you have to wait to meet with someone?
- Did the admission director find out your family member's wants and needs?
- Was the facility clean and well maintained, including the areas that were off the "tour"?
- Does the residence offer a continuum of care such as assisted living services?
- Did you see the kitchen? Is it clean?
- Does the food taste good?
- Was the staff friendly?
- Did they seem to generally care for the resident?
- Did the staff seem to get along with each other?
Listen and observe. You can learn so much just by watching and paying attention. When touring a facility ask any questions that come to mind. There are no "stupid" questions.
Second Tour of Preferred Homes
You will want to tour your preferred homes a second time, in the evening or on the weekend, just to see if there is a drastic difference in the atmosphere of the facility or the care being provided. It is important to tour at least two facilities so you can see the difference in the building, facilities and the staff. Some facilities offer "trial stays" or respite care for a few days or a week and it is a good idea to take advantage of these. It is a non-threatening way for a family member to get a real feel for a home.
Compare Findings to Criteria and Select a Home
Finally, you need to evaluate what you have learned and select a home. Remember to go back to your list of mandatory requirements and make sure that these needs are met.
Once a facility has been chosen, it is important that you get to know the people who are caring for your loved one. Let everyone know how much you care and how committed you are to your loved one's care. Keep your eyes open when you visit and eat there on occasion to check that things are still meeting your expectations. Most importantly, stay involved because you or your loved one must live with your decision.