Brochures, websites and advertisements for assisted living facilities can serve a purpose. If you are in the exact market for what's being sold - chances are your attention will be won. However, any brochure, mailing or advertisement should be taken as it is - an attempt to win your business - and should be a first step in your journey to collect your own, unbiased information and research. We live in a digital age, where outside expert opinions, user reviews, and health and safety records can all be found within a few minutes. To rely solely on materials supplied by the company in question will surely invite problems. Doing your own digging and research will most certainly uncover facts and information that you might not have known about a facility - facts and information that they may not want you to know. As they say, "The Devil Is In The Details" - so asking the right questions, doing your own research, and leaving no detail overlooked will arm you with much of the necessary information to make a reasonable and educated decision for yourself, or your loved one.
Let's say that you receive a brochure in the mail from an assisted living facility that looks perfect for you or your loved one. This brochure claims that the facility is in the right location, that the staff is friendly and competent, and that the food is superb. It claims to offer many amenities that you find attractive.
The best thing you can do at this point is to take your brochure, and start digging! There are a number of great ways to research a facility and we'll offer a few ways that you can do it from the comfort of your own home and computer.
1) Simply "google' the facility name. If you 'google' a facility name (type the facility name into a search engine), take a look at the top 10-20 results (if there are that many) that have the facility name in the result. Often times, people will blog about facilities, or you may find news articles related to the facility. This is a great, simple way to find varied sources of information about a facility.
2) "Yelp" the facility. Yelp is a very popular and growing review site that lists user reviews on just about any type of business you can imagine. Go to www.yelp.com and in the box that says "Search For," type in the name of the facility. In the box that says 'Near,' simply type in the city where the facility is located. Often times, you will find several reviews from either residents, or family members about the facility in question.
3) If you are interested in a particular facility, ask to see the "contract" even if you don't know if you will be signing it or not. As mentioned above "The Devil Is In The Details." Learning what you will be contractually obligated to before signing on the dotted line is important, but asking for the contract and giving yourself a few days or weeks to look at it thoroughly, without being pressured will allow you to 'digest' the details. This will also help you to come up with some good questions for the facility administrators.
4) Type in the facility name + "reviews" into a search engine. We previously suggested 'googling' the name of the facility. Another strategy is to enter the name of the facility in to google, yahoo, or msn, and then add the word "review" or "reviews" with your search. Many times this will bring up specific sites that contain reviews of the facility in question.
5) News Alerts - I do news alerts for the assisted living market. This delivers daily links to any news articles pertaining to the assisted living market - right to my inbox. Often times, unfortunately, the news articles are about problems at assisted living facilities that have gotten them in the news. You can even sign up for news alerts specific to a particular facility. Just go to www.google.com/alerts to sign up.
6) Ask the facility the tough questions: Facilities should be honest with you if asked about any health, sanitation, or safety violations. If you feel that you are not getting the answers you need from a facility, you can try calling the department of health, or perhaps the state's assisted living association (if there is one) to find out more about a facility's track record.
7) Ask the facility if you can join their residents for one of their mealtimes. This might present a great opportunity for you to ask the current residents about the facility, the care they receive, the quality of the meals, and the overall mood at the facility. By simply observing the facility in action, you may have some of your questions or concerns answered.
We have offered just a few ways that you might find out more about a facility. Relying only on the materials and testimonials provided by the facility could lead to many unforeseen problems and headaches - and could potentially bring harm to you or your loved one (if a facility has a record of abuse, and you weren't aware of it, for example...). Doing your own homework is essential to obtaining a more accurate and well rounded picture of any facility.
We invite any suggestions or stories from anyone who has researched an assisted living facility, and the tools or methods used.
By the staff at Assisted Living Directory
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