November 16, 2018

Director offers advice on selecting a senior care facility

Criterion staff report

In a recent interview with The Criterion, Guerin Woods retirement community administrator Providence Sister Barbara Ann Zeller offered advice to those searching for the right retirement community for their loved one. Below are her suggestions, plus two websites with aids for the research process.

“Use all your senses when you visit a potential home—what do you see, what do you smell, what do you hear?”

“What do the residents look like? Are they plopped in front of a TV, or engaged? Disheveled or clean? What’s the interaction like between the staff and them? How gently do [staff] touch them? If there’s no engagement or appropriate touch, something’s wrong.”

“It’s always a good idea to visit at mealtime. Are [the residents] spoon-fed while the aide is talking with someone else or distracted and not paying attention to them?”

“Ask to see their activity schedule and the daily schedule. Ask to see the menu.”

“Have a good conversation with the staff, not just the nurses and administrators. Especially talk with the aides. Talk to family members of others who live there.”

“Check to see if their license and staffing schedule are posted clearly. They should be.”

“It needs to be a cultural fit—I can’t overstate that enough.”

“I highly recommend a non‑profit home, especially one with Christian values. There’s a glut of assisted living facilities, primarily for-profit. But a lot of them provide concierge services so they don’t have to hire as much staff—no laundry, no giving medicines. Those are all extra fees, and those fees add up.”

For a checklist of steps when researching long-term care facilities, go to the Indiana State Department of Health’s (ISDH) long-term care report site at (case sensitive).

For a list of questions and topics to discuss when interviewing a retirement facility, go to the ISDH special topics page at (case sensitive).

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