Things to consider when choosing a facility


By Kate Oosterman

Choosing a care facility for a loved one is not easy, and with all of the many options available, it may seem a bit overwhelming. However, by conducting thorough research, you will be able to help your loved one comfortably settle into the perfect facility. Here are a few tips on what to look for in a facility, and what questions to ask administrators as you make this important decision.

What to look for in a facility:

•Public certificates — Any credible facility will clearly display public certificates. Look for inspection reports and certificates from the Department of Public Health, the Fire Department and the Department of Public Safety.

•Cleanliness — The cleanliness of the building when you visit will most likely be an indication of the cleanliness of the building all the time. Make sure the floors are swept and mopped, the beds are made, the trash is emptied and the home smells good.

•Transparency — As you tour a facility, every area should be available to you. Be wary of any facility with an area that is “off limits.”

•Current residents — Take a moment to evaluate the situation of current residents. Do they look clean, healthy and happy? Are they engaged in activities of the home? How does the staff interact with current residents?

It’s important to speak up and ask as many questions as possible. Here are some questions to ask that will help you make your decision:

•Financial questions — Find out what is included in facility costs; if Medicaid and/or Medicare are accepted; and what other payment options are available. Ask detailed questions to find out if there are any deposits, entrance fees or potential hidden fees.

•Medications — Ask who will be responsible for supplying medications. Is this something the family will need to provide, or the facility? Also, find out how medications are distributed. Is it the resident’s responsibility or the staff’s responsibility?

•Personal Care — Details of personal care should be discussed in detail. Find out what type of personal care is included in the cost. Does the facility provide personal care items and to what extent?

•Staffing — Ask questions about the staff including the median length of employment, and what requirements must be met in order for an individual to be hired for employment. Additionally, make sure there is enough staff on hand to properly care for patients by asking about the staff to resident ratio.

•Aging in Place — As your loved one grows older, select a facility that has programs allowing residents to age in place. What options do they have for hospice for end of life, geri-psych for mental health issues and more.

As you evaluate the facility and ask a series of detailed questions, you will select the right situation for you and your loved one. Follow your instincts and ask yourself if you would make the choice to live there yourself if you were in your loved one’s position.

Kate Oosterman is an assistant administrator at Oosterman’s Rest Home Inc., with locations in Melrose and Wakefield. She can be reached at 781-665-3188. Learn more at Archives of articles from previous issues can be read on