“Lack of oversight and caregiving shortfalls could put residents at risk. Here's how to avoid problems.”
For many seniors, assisted living has become an increasingly common option to remaining in their homes. An elderly individual can live in a comfortable residence, get the services that he or she requires, such as help with bathing and dressing, as well as avoid the institutionalized setting of a nursing home.
However, Consumer Reports’ recent article, “5 Steps for Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community”, says that finding the right residence can be a huge challenge.
Right off the bat, the cost is high. In 2017, the median fee for a private one-bedroom was $45,000 a year, according to Genworth, a long-term care insurer. Most residents pay out of pocket, although some qualify for Medicaid. Medicare generally does not cover long-term care services.
In addition, shortfalls in caregiving can be a problem for assisted living residents. A 2017 survey of state long-term-care ombudsmen conducted for Consumer Reports, which monitors senior living facilities nationwide, found the most common complaints dealt with understaffing and delays in response to calls for assistance. Ombudsman data show that complaints about assisted living have gone up 10% in recent years.
For families looking at into assisted living facilities for a family member, there are ways to find a facility that delivers quality care in a comfortable setting. The key is to conduct thorough research. You should begin by asking these five key questions:
- What Kind of Care is Required? Remember that different facilities offer varying levels of care. Is there a registered nurse on staff? Without this basic level of care, your loved one might end up going to the ER more often.
- What is the Quality of Care? Look at the residence’s licensing and inspection records, to see if there are any issues. To get a feel for the way things work, make several visits to the facility. Go for meals and during the weekends, when fewer staff are on duty. You should also talk to residents and their families about their experiences.
- Uncover the Real Costs of the Care. Get a written list of fees and charges from the residence and be sure that they’re included in the contract. It is recommended that you hire an elder law attorney, who’s familiar with local facilities to review the terms of the contract.
- Can Your Parent or Family Member Age in Place? Find out what scenarios might trigger a discharge, and whether you could hire private aides, if more care is required. You should also ask what assistance the facility would be able to provide, if a move is needed.
- Is There an Advocate? When you’ve selected a residence for your parent, it’s important to have family and friends visit regularly. If you do this, you’ll quickly be able to spot any issues with care. That is critical when your family member is ill or confused and can’t advocate for herself.
Reference: Consumer Reports (April 16, 2018) “5 Steps for Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community”