Most assisted living facilities adhere to strict sanitation standards.
However, sanitation is not regulated in assisted living facilities
as it is in nursing homes. Occasionally, facilities are cited for
having unsafe or even dangerous sanitation conditions. Written By:David
Besnette - Founder/Editor for Assisted Living Directory
something that might not be at the top of your checklist when
you are considering an assisted living facility for you, or
perhaps a loved one. Usually the items that receive
the most attention are
amenities, level of care, and cost. I would venture to guess
that sanitation and food safety are only an after thought for
most people going through the process of choosing a facility.
For those already living in a facility, sanitation is most likely
not ever talked about unless there is an obvious problem.
Although is is not an
epidemic, problems with sanitation and food safety do occur
in the assisted living world, and when they do, they can be
quite serious. We were reading a news story today about an assisted
living facility in Oregon that was cited for having unsanitary
kitchen conditions and multiple other code violations. There
is suspicion that this facility and the owners are having financial
One might assume that
assisted living facilities are carefully regulated when it comes
to sanitation and food safety, just as nursing homes are. However,
this is not the case. Unlike nursing homes, there are no federal
quality standards for assisted living facilities, only a state
agency that performs health and safety inspections.
The dining model of
many assisted living homes and facilities is often times much
different than that of restaurants or nursing homes. Residents
may have a choice of eating in common areas, or having their
meal brought to their room or apartment, making the meal travel
farther for delivery, adding to the inherent sanitation risks.
More support personnel may be needed for the entire food service
process in an assisted living facility than you might find in
a normal dining room or situation. This also adds to the amount
of possible contact between humans and the food served. Again,
all of this happens in an environment of heightened vulnerability.
Residents of assisted
living facilities are many times much more susceptible to bacteria,
germs or illness due to
their age, and compromised immune systems due to other illnesses
or conditions that they may have.
Should we as family
members and concerned citizens trust that assisted living facilities
will be regulated by the appropriate state agencies frequently
or thoroughly? Probably not, since often times these agencies
or inspectors will go as far as announcing when they will be
visiting, giving the facility a 'heads up' to clean up their
act. This may not happen every time, but state agencies do not
usually visit facilities frequently enough to really keep the
standards in place. It is then up to each facility to monitor
themselves, and provide a safe and sanitary environment. I don't
think it is unreasonable for a family member or a potential
resident to ask to see the kitchen and dining areas unannounced.
Perhaps more involvement from the family level will help keep
facilities on their toes.
Asking about staffing
and staff-training is also important. How are the staff in each
facility trained? Does the facility have and employ a 'Standard
Operating Procedures" manual? Are there adequate facilities
for staff to wash their hands, and are these facilities stocked
with soap and towels? Being involved and aware of the operation
and standards of "your" facility will go a long way
in making sure that remains a safe and sanitary environment
for you or your loved one.
Is it a stretch to suggest
that the standards set for sanitation in any facility would
likely be a mirror image for the standards set for the rest
of the facility's operations, including the care provided, the
management, upkeep, and overall level of service?
Update: June 2013: We found this excellent video of a facility administrator talking about the steps she, and her facility have taken to ensure a clean, sanitary environment. She discusses the air exchange system, which 'replaces' the air in the facility every hour, ensuring that smells and odors are gone quickly if a 'resident' has an accident.
Additionally, and interestingly, her facility's carpet is in 'squares' so if there is a mess or an accident on the carpet, they don't just clean the area, they go the extra step to replace the carpet in that area!
Who to contact if you are concerned about the sanitation of
an assisted living facility (generally):
Human Services Licensing Department or your State Health Department
Is there a place that people can go to submit complaints about facility
cleanliness or food issues? Is it the department of health, or something
like a long-term care ombudsman?
7 November 2012 at 1.31 pm
Definitely doesn't help a facility's rep to drive by and see their
staff outside smoking in plain view.
20 June 2012 at 5.43 pm
One of the telltale ways to learn how clean a facility is or is
not is to just smell the air. Is it stale, fresh, or does it smell
like old towels. Seriously, when you visit a facility, take a deep
whiff and that could tell you volumes.
16 November 2011 at 5.41 am
This is a good, practical article, which addresses an often neglected
issue. Food borne illness is common in Assisted Living Facilities.
When taking a tour of one, it is also a good idea to take a careful
look in the kitchen as well as the dining room. Heli heperrett @ aol.com www.thesafefoodhandbook.blogspot.com
23 February 2011 at 6.43 am
Page Place Assisted Living, , Longview, TX needs to be reported
for having a nasty kitchen and refrigerator. Who would I report
it to? It is outside the city limit of Longview and it is considered
16 December 2009 at 2.39 pm
someone is using their home im my neighbor, strictly zoned residential,
to house 4 people. this person has moved her family out. How do
I determine if this is legal?
1 November 2009 at 10.29 am
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