ACTIVE ADULTS AND SENIOR LIVING
from ultra-urban high-rise apartment
communities to cottages, townhouses,
duplexes or even single-family homes
located in a beautiful, natural setting.
An Assisted Living Community (ALC)
bridges the gap for seniors who need
assistance with daily activities as a
nursing home might offer, but wish to live
as independently as they are capable of
living for as long as possible. Residents
in an ALC are unable to live by
themselves, but do not require constant
supervision. An ALC offers its residents
assistance with eating, bathing,
dressing, laundry, housekeeping, and
keeping track of medications. They often
have centers for medical services, but
typically do not offer the extensive
medical services provided by a nursing
home. An ALC is not a substitute for a
nursing home, but rather is a stepping
stone between complete independence
and service provided by a nursing
Often, an ALC will create an
individualized service plan for seniors
upon admission, detailing personal
services that will be provided to the
resident. This plan is periodically
reviewed and updated to provide the
correct care each resident receives.
Housing in an ALC may be studio or one-bedroom apartments with small kitchen
facilities. Typically, ALC housing units
have group dining facilities and common
areas where residents gather to enjoy
social and recreational activities.
An ALC may be licensed as a “Type A” or
“Type B” facility, says Martinez. “A facility
with a Type A licensing means that the
residents are mentally and physically able
to vacate the building without assistance
within 15 minutes,” says Martinez. “A Type
B certification means that residents require
assistance to vacate the building within 15
minutes. Our facility is licensed for Type B,
as we are also certified to care for residents
with Alzheimer’s Disease.”
“Your first impression of an Assisted Living
Community is the most important,” says
Martinez. “What do you see when you
get out of the car? How do they take care
of the lawn? What is your first impression
of the staff? Are the residents properly
dressed? How’s the lighting inside the
buildings? What activities are available?
Are staff members all in the same
uniform? Scrubs are not appropriate for
an Assisted Living Community, but
nametags are important.
“I’m not bragging about our own
facility,” says Martinez of her own
community, Parmer Woods Retirement &
Assisted Living, “but people comment all
the time about that first impression when
they walk into my building, go on the
tour, and acknowledge that they like
what they see.”
NURSING CARE FACILITIES
A Nursing Care Facility (NCF) is a state
licensed, private-care facility that provides
24-hour skilled hospital care for residents
who do not require hospitalization but
cannot be cared for at home. Also called
Long Term Care Facilities, the majority of
nursing homes are staffed by caring,
trained persons who provide an excellent
level of service for their residents.
It pays to shop around when selecting a
NCF. Seniors should consult with a trusted
doctor or health care practitioner for
recommendations of nearby facilities. Plan
on visiting at least four or five area facilities,
and make an appointment with the
administrator or director of nursing. Check
to make sure that information provided is
consistent with information gathered during
the facility tour. Discrepancies between
provided information and your own
observations indicate possible problems
later on. A nursing care facility should have
clean floors, and a clean smell. Facilities
with dirty floors and a sour smell do not put
a high priority on cleanliness, and should
not be considered.
Ask to see the compliance survey report
prepared by the State of Texas on the
considered facility. The report will list
deficiencies found in resident care
during routine inspections, and the
facility’s effort to correct the problem.
Under Texas law, nursing homes must
make this and other survey compliance
reports available upon request, as well
as provide an accessible and well-lit
place for review.
Another option available is to call the
Texas Department of Human Services at
800-458-9858. While state law
prohibits agency employees from
recommending one facility over another,
they can answer the following TDHS
recommended questions about any such
• Have there been any proposed license
terminations in the past two years?
• How many complaints have been filed
in the past year?
• How many complaints in the past year
have been found to be valid?
• How many deficiencies have been
cited in the past two years?
• How many “quality of care” violations
have been cited in the past two years?
• When did TDHS last visit the facility,
and what was the purpose of the visit?
• Has the owner of this facility had other
facilities recommended for license
The answers to these questions, combined
with observations and impressions made
during facility tours and staff interviews
will ease the task of selecting the right
nursing care facility.