Searching for care services and understanding the available care options can be a challenge for families. Here are some key criteria that will help you when looking at facilities, regardless of the care level required for your loved one.
When visiting, some families elect to phone ahead and book a tour and time to chat, which has advantages for the facility.
They can prepare for your arrival and have information on hand that will be relevant for you.
Other families like the drop-in approach to see how well the facility manages unexpected visitors.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Were you greeted warmly and made to feel welcome? Is the reception area warm and inviting? Were the staff engaging and helpful?
We all know that first impressions last. It’s a good idea to scan the walls and tables.
Is information presented in a professional way and is it relevant to the services they provide?
What scents are you aware of and what level of cleanliness do you see? This can indicate the overall level of pride.
A facility doesn’t have to be brand new or opulent to be welcoming, friendly and give a sense of pride in the service.
Do the staff who walk by make eye contact, smile, even greet you? How are they presented? Are they well turned out, with their uniforms clean and tidy?
Some facilities will offer just a chat, others suggest a tour. Always take the tour, as you will observe many other factors that may influence your decision.
How clean and tidy are the residents that you see? Are there unpleasant odours? Are staff interacting with residents or tucked away in the nurses’ station?
Again, check the information and displays — are they current and relevant, reflecting happy times they enjoy together?
During the conversation, it is critical to ask about “extra costs”, particularly if you intend on applying for a subsidy. These are costs not covered by the subsidy — each facility has the right to charge for extra services.
These may include an extra-large room, a personal en suite rather than a shared bathroom, an external door directly to the courtyard or outdoors, or even a television.
The extra costs could be for one or more of these (or similar), so it is vital to ask precisely what the additional room fee covers.
It is also worth remembering that if your loved one has specialist medication, it may not be covered by the subsidy, so you should expect to pay for it.
Hopefully you will leave the facility feeling well informed and satisfied that your questions have been well answered.
In my next column, we will explore what to expect on admission, once you have selected the facility you prefer.