family attorney or accountant to review the
contract as well. If the contract is found
agreeable, ask to spend at least one night
and two days at the facility, to test drive the
community and make sure it is a good fit.
Some points to consider include:
• Are pets allowed in your residence?
• What social, recreational and cultural
activities are offered?
• Is food prepared onsite? If so, how is it?
• Are there fitness facilities onsite?
• Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?
• What healthcare and personal care
services are available?
• What preparations have been made for
handling medical and evacuation
CCRCs are an excellent option for those
who are independent and in good health,
but might need some assistance with daily
living needs or require skilled nursing care.
The variety of housing offered by CCRCs
is varied as well, ranging 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 home.
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 ques-
tions about any such facility:
• 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?