Checklist for Assisted Living

What to Look for in Assisted Living Residences

Assisted Living, Housing with Services, Catered Living, and Service Rich housing are all names that describe a type of housing that helps people with the activities of daily living. In Minnesota in order to be considered “Assisted Living” residences have minimum requirements: 2 meals daily, daily check system, weekly housekeeping and laundry service, and assistance with 3 or more of the activities of daily living. Additionally health related services must include assistance with self-administration of medication or administration of medication, supervised by a Registered Nurse. Assisted Living residences must also have staff available who can respond 24/7 to requests for assistance with heath or safety neeeds.* Remember if you are helping someone, try to include them as much as possible; it will make their satisfaction level higher. 

*Some setting with 12 or fewer residents may qualify for an exemption permitting them to use staff who are allowed to sleep, but can be awakened in order to respond to health or safety needs.

 Where to Start

  •  Be honest with yourself—what are your needs?
  •  Try to anticipate your future needs. If you have a chronic condition, it probably is not going to improve.
  • Call and set up tours of places that interest you.
  • First Impressions
  • Is the building well-kept?
  • Are the grounds well maintained?
  • Are the common areas attractive?
  • Does it look like a place you would like to live?
  • As you tour, does the building smell clean, fresh?
  • Does the staff treat the residents in a warm, friendly manner and call them by name.

The Overall Building

  •  Does the building make sense?
  • Is the building accessible for wheelchairs and walkers?
  • Are floors easy to walk on?
  • Are handrails available?
  • Does the residence have sprinklers?
  • Is the building well-lit?
  • What type of security system do they have?
  • What type of response system do they have; pull chords, pendants, both?
  • Is a wearing a pendant mandatory in order to live there?
  • Do the residents appear to be compatible neighbors/friends for you?
  • Do the residents socialize and appear contented and comfortable?
  • Are there any social activities/outings?
  • Is there a monthly calendar of events, newsletter?

Building Amenities

While residences vary in the amenities they offer, here are some that are typically found: community, guest, craft, exercise, game, computer, and TV rooms, chapel, meditation, library, patio, porch, three season room, solarium, garden, greenhouse, whirlpool, warm water pool, wellness center, exercise programs, post office, convenience store, pharmacy, beauty/ barber shop, coffee shop, garages and/or off site parking, car wash.

 The Individual Apartments and Suites

  •  Can you control the heat/air in your own apartment?
  • Are cupboards and shelves easy to reach?
  • Do all units have cable TV, telephones, and internet lines?
  • How is the billing done?
  • Can you lock you own door?
  • Can you bring you own furnishings and what furnishings are provided?
  • Are bathrooms private; will they accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
  • Is a full kitchen available?
  • Social and Recreational Opportunities
  • Are pets allowed?
  • Can family members come into the residence to help me?

Meals and Dining

  • Do the meals look appetizing?
  • Does the menu vary from day to day?
  • Are snacks available?
  • May residents request special foods?
  • May your family, friends join you for meals?
  • Can you eat in your apartment?
  • Is meal time set or can you eat when you wish?
  • Is there a common dining area?
  • Health Care

Will the staff arrange for Health Care or is up to you to arrange for your own?

  • If there are health services in place, can you purchase it in increments?
  • Is there visiting physician available for residents that have difficulty getting to a clinic?
  • Is there a 24 hour emergency response system?
  • Are additional services available if my needs change?
  • Is there a written plan of care for each resident?
  • Is a contractual agreement available that discloses healthcare, supportive services, all fees, admission and discharge provisions?
  • What staff is available to assist residents who need memory care?
  • What procedures and equipment are in place for medical emergencies?
  • Are nursing services available 24 hours/day?
  • Is there a nurse on-site 24 hours/day?
  • Is there an appeals process for residents that are dissatisfied?