Summary: The following advice is based on Assisted Living Directory’s 10+ years of being in this industry, and is geared to help you to minimize abuse, fraud, questionable behavior, and misinformation. We want all senior, individuals, and their families to have a safe and positive experience as they research senior care. We’ve listed our top 8 tips below.
Assisted living is destined to become one of the most competitive markets, or niches in the country – soon. Why? Because we are at an unprecedented level of people entering ‘retirement’ age – baby boomers who aren’t so young chronologically any more (young at heart still, for many of them, I’m sure). This means that a significant percentage of them will need senior care in the next several Questionable Assisted Living Practicesyears.
In any competitive or ‘lucrative’ market, there will absolutely and certainly be a boom of misinformation, businesses or individuals intent of profiting by preying on those in need, and folks who have a downright criminal intent.
Assisted living, at least in an online sense, has started to show signs of this. Every day, there seems to be a new site out there with the sole purpose of collecting your information, and selling it to the highest bidder. There is a lot of misinformation about facilities, facility owners, and the industry, and there is important information about these items that isn’t as easy to find.
With all of this in mind, here are our top, most important pieces of advice, and recommendations to anyone searching for senior care.
1) Don’t base your decision on any one website, no matter how good, or reputable it may be. This even includes Assisted Living Directory. We try extremely hard to make sure our facility information, facts, and articles are bullet-proof with accurate information, but sometimes, a facility may submit something inaccurate to our site, and it may take a bit to catch it (as hard as we try).
That’s why we try to offer so many links and references to state-sponsored data, and other unbiased, trusted resources so people can check the facts on their own.
2) ALWAYS check your state’s Department on Aging, or Department of Health website for information on assisted living facilities.
I have found that most states have a comprehensive list of facilities, broken down by county, city, facility name,license number – and more.
Additionally, these sites often include facility inspections information, safety and violations information, and enforcement actions that may have occurred with each facility. This should be considered some of the most useful and valuable information you can find as you research, and unfortunately, most people aren’t aware that it exists.
4) ALWAYS take someone with you as a ‘second opinion’ or a ‘devil’s advocate’ as you tour facilities, and interview facility owners and managers. What one person may not catch, good or bad – another might.
5) ALWAYS get anything a facility promises or advertises in writing. Don’t trust what anyone ‘says’ or what a snazzy brochure or marketing piece says.
6) Ask to talk to existing residents, if possible. They’ll give you the best impression (verbally, or through appearances or body language) as to how they are treated, how happy they are, and how the facility is managed. Perhaps you could ask to have lunch with the residents to observe the overall mood, and to speak with residents at the facility directly in a group atmosphere.
7) Is it easy to find who is responsible for the information on a website, authorship information, or the name of who owns the website, or who has produced the content? If you can’t find a name, or anyone taking responsibility, think twice about whether it is trustworthy.
8) If you find misinformation, experience abuse, or questionable practices by a facility, or a website, report it! The more vigilant the public becomes in policing this industry, the fewer open-doors there will be for people with bad intentions.
There are so many wonderful people behind the scenes in this industry, and thousands of awesome facilities and businesses. Unfortunately, a few, but growing number of bad-apples can do significant damage to individuals, their families, and the industry’s reputation.
By following our tips and advice (and we welcome others in the comments below), we can look forward to a safe and positive future in the assisted living industry!