Choosing a retirement or convalescent home for a loved one is a daunting task. Acknowledging that the loved one can no longer live alone is an emotionally draining experience for both the family member who needs the residential care and the loved ones who are needing to find the best possible solution.

The process of finding the right home with adequate staff as well as one that has the right level of care for your loved one is not easy. Here are a few steps you can take to make the process less stressful

Your personal visit

You need to visit the retirement homes on your list in order to see first-hand the environment and ask questions of the administrator and staff. At the visit, here are some things to pay particular attention to:

• Does it smell clean or reek of urine and feces?
• How does the food look, smell and taste? Is it visually appealing and taste good. If your loved one needs a special diet, ask how the home will accommodate that need. Find out if snacks are available and if residents can keep snacks in their room. Can they have a small refrigerator in their room for this purpose.
• Carefully observe the staff and how they interact with the residents. Are they polite and respectful? Do they knock on a resident’s door or just barge in? Do they greet the residents by name or by non-personal phrases like “honey” and “darling.”
• How are the residents occupied? Are they busy with interesting projects or do they just sit in a chair and watch television? Check for a calendar of events and activities.
• Observe residents for evidence of bruising or other injuries.

Couple looking for a retirement home

Questions to ask of the administration and staff

Ask to see the inspection survey reports, note identified problems and ask how rapidly they were fixed. These reports are supposed to be available for your review. If the home does not want you to see the reports, run to another home.

Find out what the staff turnover is. A heavy turnover indicates the workers are unhappy.
Unhappy retirement home workers do not give new care.

Your online research may indicate that the home has had some type of safety or health violation. Ask specific information about the violation and how it was resolved.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, a minor violation that was corrected immediately does not need to rule out the home. For example, a violation can be noted for a low-pressure fire extinguisher. If it was replaced within a day or two of the violation being noted, that would be considered inconsequential. On the other hand, a serious violation that goes uncorrected for a period of time is a bad sign.

Determine the staff to resident ratio. If loved ones need help with activities of daily living, you do not want to think of them not getting enough to eat because there is no staff available to help feed them. You do not want to think of your loved one lying in a wet bed because there is not enough staff to tend to the problem as soon as it happens.
You want to be sure that there is a low reliance on temporary staff. If residents are daily faced with a different person caring for them, they will feel insecure and uncomfortable. Residents need to feel they can count on staff almost to the level of staff taking the place of family. If there is a constant turnover of staff or use of temporary staff, residents and staff relationships will not develop and your loved one will suffer.

Making sure that medical care is available at the retirement home

Find out about medical care

Ask if there is preventive care offered, such as pneumonia and flu shots for all residents. Is there a doctor on site or on call for emergencies? Are residents provided with transportation to doctor’s appointments? Are dental and vision care provided on site or are you still responsible for arranging these services for your loved one?

If you are looking for a retirement home for yourself, a loved one, or a family member, we hope you have found this information useful. Retirement is an exciting time in the lives of senior citizens and finding a retirement home they can feel comfortable in is very important.