In the past 7 years, I have given MANY tours at our assisted living community. I’ve even given tours at some of our sister communities. I’ve read guides that industry pros have posted. I’ve listened to feedback from residents, families, staff and upper-level management. I’ve moved residents into our property from every setting you can imagine. Now, it’s not that I think that I have all the answers. That is laughable and would be impossible. But how about I just offer you as Paul Harvey would say “the rest of the story” and give you my humble insights. I like working with lists of 3s. So, here is a list of my top three suggestions for finding the assisted living community that is the right fit.
Suggestion Number One
Remember WHO is the Consumer
One of the most surprising things that I ever experienced in my senior living career was the opportunity to move a resident into our 16-bed community from a place that I swear resembled a resort at the beach. It was, however, also an assisted living community. As I drove onto the property I honestly mouthed the words…WOW. Inside was the latest of color schemes and decor. I honestly wanted to ask the lady at the desk in the lobby the name of the gray paint on the walls. I loved it. But my grandmother would have hated it. I have residents that would have hated it. And you guessed it…so did the resident that I moved out of this fancy pants place and into our community. This huge place was also overwhelming to the resident. The resident had vision issues and that typically doesn’t pair well with a monochromatic color scheme or a giant campus. Bottom line…think of the loved one whom you are considering living in a community and be sure that you are shopping for them and not YOU.
Suggestion Number Two
Meet and Greet
It didn’t take me long to realize when I started working with senior adults exactly who was in charge and it was NOT me. Now naturally, I make sure that we are being regulatory compliant and we don’t do anything that is unsafe. But the phrase that I remind our staff and how we approach the care in how we treat our residents is “this is their house and we work for you”. It’s not just something that we say, it is how we do our best to approach the things that we do. If you are looking at a community that doesn’t treat your loved one as an individual, look elsewhere! When it comes to tours, I offer our current residents the opportunity to meet and greet some of our prospects. It gives the prospective family and potential residents a chance to hear first-hand information from the consumers who know it best. It also invites the members of our community to be part of the place they call home and it is truly heart-warming to see the way that they communicate. Who else would know better than the ones who have been in the exact same shoes as the prospect!
Suggestion Number Three
Another thing (that yes, even as an administrator) I would suggest is drop in without an appointment. Now, of course, this needs to be at a decent hour. Most properties love to schedule a tour so that a marketing person or administrator can help you through the process and that is a truly effective way to get the answers to most of your questions. But dropping in on a Saturday or taking up the offer to join the community for a meal are great ways to get a good feel for how a community functions. Now the meal “invites” do typically need to be scheduled so that enough food can be prepared, but it is a wonderful opportunity to sample the “fare” and observe the staff and community. Also, don’t forget to let the prospective resident be part of this process. I have witnessed many families try to avoid bringing their loved one along for fear of upsetting them. I say start slowly. This change is hard for everyone…even for the adult children that are trying to do what is best and safe for their aging parent or loved one. Making the decision to move to an assisted living community is not easy. Change isn’t easy. But making the decision to keep someone safe is the right move.
If you would like more information about one of our Great Oaks Management Properties or would like to set up a tour at a property near you, please call us today at 1-888-258-8082.