Posted July 10, 2009

There are the obvious questions… how much will it cost?  How many meals?  How does the food taste?  These and the other simple questions are very important.  But often families fail to ask the HARD questions.  (Sometimes they also get swayed by a newer or prettier environment but that is a whole other story…)

Here are some probing questions to consider when you tour.

* Does the community offer staff 24 hours a day?  How much staff and can they perform care & assistance (help with going to the bathroom, or redirecting a wandering resident, or helping administer medication) or are they only there in case of emergencies and then an on call nurse or 911 is notified?  What is the procedure if a resident falls in the middle of the night?

* How much should you prepare for changes in the cost?  Will they have a yearly increase?  If so, how much (typical average is 2-5% annually).  Do cost increase as care needs increase or are you already paying a flat rate?

* What services can they not provide for the resident (see prior post).  When would someone need to move due to a physical condition.

* What is your procedure if the resident runs low on funds and can no longer afford to stay in the community?  Do they have space for Medicaid and if so do they help with the application?  If they do not, where do they usually send their residents.  (You may want to check that facility out as well.)

* What kind of staff training is required & provided?  What is the employee turn over rate?  Can you meet some of the employees who will be doing the hands on care?

* Some others:  What happens if the resident can no longer take care of their incontinence issues?  What if they constantly fall or try to get up from their wheelchair and fall?  What is the procedure for documenting medication?  Who do you talk to if there is something wrong with the bill?

There are certainly other very important and very tough questions to ask.  Please share with our readers any other “tough” questions that should be asked!

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