It is very interesting to us to see what criteria families use to sort through their list of possible assisted living facilities. Almost always, services and amenities are among 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.
Our YouTube Playlist with State/City-Specific Guides to Learning Facility Inspections, Citations and Complaints & Other Public Records.
Since we completed our original video tutorial several years ago, we have produced over 100 state/city specific guides on finding inspections and other public records for assisted living facilities and residential care homes.
In the upper left-hand corner of the video below there is a "Playlist" tab that you can use to scroll through the videos to find your city or state!
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.
[Video] How To Look Up Facility Citations and Violations
Video Produced by Assisted Living Directory
This is our 'original' video tutorial produced on finding inspections information. This video will show you a general step-by-step guide on how to find this valuable information about facilities you are interested in.
We have also since done state and city-specific tutorials for finding citations, complaints and inspections reports. Many of them are in our blog's citations and inspections category.
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: http://www.azdhs.gov/
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: http://www.azdhs.gov/als/hcb/index.htm
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 helpful.
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 out Consumer 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 to see.
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!