the first things looked at. Of
course, these are very important items. Families want to know
if their loved one with Alzheimer's
will have certified specialists in memory disorders to care
for them. Or, they will want to make sure, for example, that
there is help for incontinence if that is an issue. Or, perhaps
mom or dad have a religious preference, so they might want to
be in a facility that offers services on Sunday, or a facility
that is faith-based.
Location is another one at the
top of the list of things that people most often times look
at when choosing a facility. This too is very important, as
most people are particular about where they want to live. Usually,
people choose facilities near other family members for support,
or in a place that is familiar to the family member being placed.
Another location-specific variable that is often considered
is weather, which is why places like Florida
and Arizona are extremely popular
with seniors and retirees.
However, one of the items that
is often times an afterthought when considering assisted living
and long-term care is how many, if any violations and/or citations
has the facility received during a particular period of time
(or ever)? This consideration could perhaps be one of the most
enlightening discoveries you make, and might help you to further
narrow down your choices, and highlight others.
Take the example of the food
and hospitality industry. Most people have heard about one of
their local restaurants failing a health inspection for whatever
reason, like improperly stored food, insects or mice in the
kitchen or dining room, or employees with inadequate hygiene.
We'd venture to bet that most people, upon learning of such
a report, would not return to such an establishment, right?
The same should go for an assisted living facility as well.
This is not to say that most
facilities out there are perfect all of the time. Actually,
quite the opposite. Most assisted living and senior care facilities
at one time or another are cited for some issue that happens
at the facility. Many times, the cited issue is minor and easily
fixed. A good facility will resolve the issue quickly. It's
the facilities that are often being cited, and for major infractions,
that also fail to fix the problems or neglected areas of their
facilities and operations - these are the facilities that we
need to worry about.
Finding out about facility safety
and health records and violations might differ some from state
to state, since each state in the US regulates assisted living
differently, and at times with varying laws and regulations.
However, with a little snooping, and with the help of your state's
Department of Health...or just a good search engine, you can
almost always obtain this important information.
I'll offer one example here about how I found this information
using the State of Arizona as my subject.
1) The first thing I did was
go to the State of Arizona Department of Health website, by
doing a search for those terms "Arizona Department of Health"
in a search engine. The first page I came up with was:
2) This site had a search function
at the top-right of the homepage. The next thing I did was enter
"Assisted Living" into the search bar, and came up
with this page:
3) I then saw a page under "Facility Information"
that was titled "Facility Search: Including Inspection
Reports" here: http://www.azdhs.gov/als/hcb/index.htm
- and I went to that page.
4) The page that came up was another enhanced search form called
"Assisted Living Provider : Search Form" which has
boxes for the Provider Name (or assisted living facility); Address;
City; Zip Code; Provider Type. Searches may be done by any and
all of the criteria.
5) I then typed in the name of
a facility I am familiar with in Arizona, and put the city "Tucson"
into the appropriate box. When I clicked"Start Search"
the facility came up on the next page, with the facility name,
address, city and state, and a link that says "Select"
which is what I did.
6) Once I went to "select"
a page came up with expanded information about the facility,
with more information including it's license number, facility
ID, Provider Type, and then a handful of links for "Survey
Date" which looks to be an annual or semi-annual collection
of inspection reports within the past three years of the current
date. I chose the most recent, from August of 2010.
7) From here, it looks like this
facility had only one finding, which was an Environmental Services
issue. I clicked on the "Findings" and "Citation
1" tab, and a very helpful box displayed telling me precisely
what the citation was about, which was essentially that the
facility did not have documentation that the pets on site were
licensed according to local ordinances. Then, it displayed "Rule
1" which tells what the rules are, with a code that is
obviously matched to the ordinance, or law that is on the books.
8) Lastly, this final page offered
me the option to print my findings, which I also found extremely
Arizona really has a well thought out and user-friendly way
to look for citation and violations information for assisted
living facilities. Most states should offer something comparable
to this model, but it is unlikely that all states will
have something quite this easy, and user-friendly. If you get
stuck, or can't find the information, I would try typing in
the name of the facility, with words like "citation"
and "violation" into a search engine. You might come
up with where this information is located by using this method.
If all else fails, call the city, the Department of Social Services,
or the state's Department of Health and/or Human Services and
ask them how to get a copy of this data. If your state has an
Assisted Living Association (most of them do), they may be able
to direct you to this information as well.
In addition, we recommend checking
Health Ratings to find links to State-Level Inspection Reports
and Quality Ratings for assisted living and long term care.
Consumer Health Ratings is not affiliated with Assisted Living
Directory in any way.
I spent some more time playing
around on Arizona's site, typing in various facilities and seeing
what it came up with. Some facilities had records that were
downright scary, with multiple violations year after year. Others
had very few violations, or very minor ones, which we were happy
Finding this information about
the facility or facilities you or your family are interested
in can really cast a powerful and unbiased light on the facility,
and how it is managed and operates, and should help you to significantly
narrow down your choices, and to help bring those 'shining star'
facilities to the top of your list!
We wish you and your family the
best of luck in your assisted living research!