The following assisted living community evaluation checklist is your guide to the important amenities, services, accommodations, and care provided by assisted living communities. Every community is unique. ALFA recommends making several visits at various times of day to each community you are considering.
Ask the community for written material, including copies of the residency agreement that outlines, at a minimum, services, fees, extra charges, move-in and move-out criteria, staffing, and house rules.
As you begin your search for an assisted living community, assess your current needs and be prepared to ask each provider how it might accommodate any changes in your needs over time. Examine your finances and ask about costs. Monthly rates and fee structures vary.
Most of all, if you are seeking a community for someone who cannot visit the community personally, itís important to respect their needs and wishes by including them in the process as much as possible. The result will be their greater satisfaction.
As you assess assisted living communities, you will likely visit a number of them. To help you determine the one thatís right for you or your loved one, consider the following questions to evaluate each community based on your needs. Also ask whether the community is a member of the Assisted Living Federation of America, which demonstrates a commitment to excellence and ongoing professional development.
Click here to download the following checklist as a PDF.
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Assisted Living Environment
- As you arrive at the community, do you like its location and outward appearance?
- As you enter the lobby and tour the community, is the dťcor attractive and homelike?
- Do you receive a warm greeting from staff welcoming you to the community?
- Does the executive director call residents by name and interact warmly with them as you tour the community?
- Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
- Are you able to talk with residents about how they like the community and staff?
- Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
- Are staff members appropriately dressed, personable, and outgoing?
- Do the staff members treat each other in a professional manner?
- Are the staff members that you pass during your tour friendly to you?
- Are visits with the resident welcome at any time?
Physical Features of the Assisted Living Community
- Is the community well-designed for your needs?
- Is the floor plan easy to follow?
- Are doorways, hallways, and rooms accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers?
- Are elevators available for those unable to use stairways?
- Are handrails available to aid in walking?
- Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
- Are floors of a non-skid material and carpets firm to ease walking?
- Does the community have good natural and artificial lighting?
- Is the community clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled?
- Does the community have sprinklers, smoke detectors, and clearly marked exits?
- Does the community have a means of security if a resident wanders?
Needs Assessments, Residency Agreements, Assisted Living Costs & Finances
- Is a residency agreement available that discloses personal care and supportive services, all fees, as well as move-in and move-out provisions? What are the policies for refunds and transfers?
- Is there a written plan of care for each resident? How frequently is it reviewed and updated?
- Does the community have a process for assessing a residentís need for services, and are those needs addressed periodically?
- Does this periodic assessment process include the resident, his or her family, and community staff, along with the residentís physician?
- Are there any government, private, or corporate programs available to help cover the cost of services to the resident?
- Are additional services available if the residentís needs change?
- Are there different costs for various levels or categories of personal care?
- Do billing, payment, and credit policies seem fair and reasonable?
- Are residents required to purchase rentersí insurance for personal property in their units?
- Is there an appeals process for dissatisfied residents?
Medication & Health Care
- Does the community have specific policies regarding storage of medication, assistance with medications, training and supervision of staff, and record keeping?
- Is self-administration of medication allowed?
- Is there a staff person to coordinate home healthcare visits from a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, etc., if needed?
- Does the community have a clearly stated procedure for responding to a residentís medical emergency?
- To what extent are ancillary services available, and how are these services provided? Ask if there is an additional charge for any of these services.
Assisted Living Community Services & Amenities
- Can the community provide a list of personal care services available?
- Is staff available to provide 24-hour assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed? ADLs include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene and grooming, bathing, and toileting.
- Does the community provide housekeeping services in personal living spaces?
- Can residents arrange for transportation on fairly short notice?
- Are barber/beautician services offered on-site?
- Does the community provide scheduled transportation to doctorsí offices, the hairdresser, shopping, and other activities desired by residents?
Individual Assisted Living Apartment Features
- Are different sizes and types of apartments available?
- Are apartments for single and double occupancy available?
- Do residents have their own lockable doors?
- Is a 24-hour emergency response system accessible from the apartment?
- Are bathrooms private and designed to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers?
- Are residents able to bring their own furnishings for their apartment? What may they bring? What is provided?
- Do all apartments have a telephone, cable or satellite TV, and internet access? How is billing handled?
- Is a kitchen area provided with a refrigerator, sink, and cooking element?
- May residents keep food in their apartments?
- May residents smoke in their apartments? In public spaces?
- May residents decorate their own apartments?
Social & Recreational Activities
- Is there evidence of organized activities, such as a posted daily schedule, events in progress, reading materials, visitors, etc.?
- Do residents participate in activities outside of the community in the neighboring community?
- Does the community have its own pets?
- Are residentsí pets allowed in the community? Who is responsible for their care?
- Do volunteers, including family members, come into the community to help with or to conduct programs?
- Does the community create a sense of inclusion by encouraging residents to participate in activities?
Assisted Living Food Service
- Do dining room menus vary from day to day and meal to meal?
- Does the community provide three nutritionally balanced meals a day, seven days a week?
- Are snacks available?
- May a resident request special foods, and can the community accommodate special dietary needs?
- Are common dining areas available?
- May residents eat meals in their apartment or suite?
- May meals be provided at a time a resident would like, or are there set times for meals?
Additional Questions on Assisted Living
This PDF checklist can be downloaded here.
- Does the community conduct criminal background checks on employees?
- Does the community train staff on elder abuse and neglect? Is there a policy for reporting suspected abuse?
- Does the community have a special wing or floor for residents with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimerís disease? If so, is it secured?
- Does the community allow hospice to come in and care for residents?
- Does the community accept long-term care insurance?
- Does the community allow a loved one, such as a grandchild, to spend the night? Is there a charge?
- Does the community participate in the Veteransí Administration Aide and Attendance Program? Will the community help complete the paperwork?
- Does the community accept Medicaid?
- What are the most common reasons why a resident may be asked to move out of the community?
Choosing a senior living residence
for yourself or a loved one is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Learn more about the Questions to ask when considering Assisted Living.
WHAT is Assisted Living?
The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed. Assisted living is designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation. Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Residents are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan.
Learn more about Assisted Living.
COST of Assisted Living
If you haven't planned for senior living care, you aren't alone. Few people do - either because they don't think they'll need it or because they want to save their assets for their children and believe that government subsidies will cover any care they need. This doesn't mean they can't afford suitable care; it just means the choices may be more limited. Fortunately, just like the variety in settings, styles, and amenities, senior living residences are available at a variety of price points. If you think you can't afford it, you may be surprised. Learn more.
QUESTIONS to Ask
Certain situations and signs may indicate it might be time to consider alternative living arrangements. Generally speaking, families and seniors begin to consider alternatives when it becomes difficult for the elderly family member to carry on important activities of daily living without significant support and assistance from others.
Whether your needs are immediate or long-term, planning for senior living can seem daunting. Making the Right Choice Involves asking the right questions. Learn more about what to ask when considering senior living.
2013 Hero Awards
Heroes are found in senior living communities across the country. They are the executive directors, staff members, nurses, frontline caregivers, and volunteers who do more, give more, and personify the spirit of excellence in senior living care. Everyone knows at least one hero ó someone in senior living who has shown extraordinary courage and leadership ó someone who has risen above his or her daily duties to improve the quality of life for residents.
Nominations for the ALFA 2013 Hero Awards, the organizationís annual recognition of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated professionals who compassionately serve seniors residing in senior living communities, is now open. Nominate a Hero. *Nominations for this competitions will close on January 11, 2013.