Room configurations are variable, ask to see more than one example of suites.
The next series of nine blogs will be focused on value added information included in the Elder Pilot Long-Term Care, and Elder Pilot Retirement Resources Section.
Buildings come in a variety of sizes, configurations, and can be new or older construction.
It is important as a tourist, to assess each home as a unique structure. Be advised, that the age of a residence does not correlate with excellence in care. That is why we have cues in the app, to help assess staff-resident interactions, unique to that home.
During tours in Long-Term Care homes, tour routes are usually chosen that are predictable, and best reflect the home in a positive light. The route more often showcases the home areas where seniors are the most active, and have the highest level of wellness.
In Long-Term care homes, areas that may be designated for individuals with more complex needs, including responsive behaviors (acting out towards self/others), and advanced memory loss, are seldom viewed in a tour. Part of the rationale is to avoid disrupting routines for the elders. These home areas are less pristine, as residents may have difficulty with many facets of personal care, including toileting, eating, and personal hygiene.
If a loved one requires a specialized unit, such as a secure area (one with coded locked exits), I would suggest asking to view this area at the end of the tour. This will allow insight into the appearance of the environment, and the quality of interactions between staff and residents.
Room sizes and configurations in Long-Term care homes are variable.
Always ask to see two samples of the type of room you desire (basic (ward), semi private, private). This will allow comparisons as to size, placement of beds, and bathroom location.
In Ontario, newer LTC homes offer a “ward or basic” room, consisting of two residents sharing a common or adjoining space, and bathroom. In an older home, wards consist of four people living in a shared room. Individuals in Ontario may be eligible for a government financial subsidy to offset monthly payments, if their income falls within certain parameters. Be advised, this applies to basic (ward) rooms only, so the number of roommates will be impacted by the age of the home chosen.
Some shared rooms have beds separated by a curtain; others may have partial, or full walls with an adjoining bathroom. Perhaps this is of no consequence to you, or maybe this is a major deterrent. That is why viewing resident rooms is imperative.
In Retirement homes, ask to see available suite configurations in the price range that meets your budget. Is there a balcony or patio adjacent to your suite? Is there an internal wait list for existing clients to move to a suite with a more desirable view, when one becomes available?
I am a stickler for checking cleanliness when touring a home and am mindful of lingering odors, the condition and cleanliness of flooring and furniture upholstery. Note the appearance of common areas and resident rooms. Is this a place where the overall condition of the building is clean and in good repair? Have those routine maintenance items been addressed such as; a well kept exterior, and clean ceiling tiles and walls?
Consider the heating and cooling systems in the residence as well.
A lack of air-cooling systems can make the heat unbearable in the warm months. Likewise, room thermostats for temperature adjustments, allow the resident to make choices based on their personal preferences, not the wishes of others.
The presence of fire sprinklers in buildings is mandated in some areas and not in others. Is this a place where fire preparedness is a priority?
At this point you are probably thinking that some of these items have never come to mind. The cues in the app help to make observations, as well as including a note section, to add other comments and thoughts.
Not everyone approves of this available information.
Recommending homes for seniors is becoming a lucrative business, and using our apps instead, facilitates self-directed touring. When making choices about future accommodations, aim to be an informed consumer. Remember YOU are the one who cares the most about where you live, and must live with the consequences of your choices.