Choosing Personal Care/Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities, or ALFs, are a popular housing option for many among Florida’s 3.5 million residents age 65 and older.

ALFs offer seniors a community setting with the opportunity to remain independent — with the added benefit of nearby assistance whenever it’s needed. Facilities can design programs to meet individual needs, for short-term stays when support services are required and for permanent residency when chronic conditions exist.

ALFs often offer 24-hour supervision, three meals a day (often served in a group dining room), and a range of services that promote the quality of life and independence of each individual. These may include:

  • Personal care services (help with bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.)
  • Medication management, or assistance with self-administration of medicine
  • Social services
  • Supervision and assistance for persons with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and disabilities
  • Recreational and spiritual activities
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Laundry and linen service
  • Housekeeping and maintenance
  • Arrangements for transportation

When you are looking for an assisted living or residential care setting for yourself or a loved one, consider the following factors:

Service Planning – How often are residents’ needs assessed? Are there special programs for residents with disabilities? How are emergency situations managed? What happens if the care needs of a resident change?

Services and Activities – Does staff assist residents in administration of medication? If so, what kind of staff? Are there professional nursing services on site? Are the services of a physical, occupational or speech therapist available or arranged? Does the facility provide for laundry and beauty shop services, recreational and spiritual activities, and transportation for medical appointments? What are the suggestion, complaint or grievance procedures? Can hospice care be offered?

Staff – What training and qualifications are required for staff? Are there ongoing training programs provided for staff? Does the administrator/director practice an “open door” policy?

Costs and Fees – What is included in the basic monthly cost, and are there charges for additional services? Is there a security deposit? What is the refund policy? Can service agreements and or contracts be amended or modified?

Dining and Food Services – Does the ALF accommodate special diets? How often do the menus rotate? What are the criteria for residents to eat meals in their rooms?

Living Space and Accommodations – Are there adequate community areas for resident use? Are the resident rooms furnished or unfurnished? What is the policy about personal belongings? Does the ALF provide security? What is the policy regarding pets?

Licensure and Certification – Is the ALF licensed? Ask to review the last inspection report.

Safety – Does the facility have a fire sprinkler system throughout the facility? Where are smoke detectors located? How are emergency and evacuation plans reviewed with resident after admission to reinforce their memory? What systems are used to keep residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s secure from successful exit strategies?

Location – Is the location of the ALF convenient to shopping, medical services and entertainment areas? Can family members and visitors easily locate the residence for visiting?