The Care Labyrinth

Most retirement residences today, whether they are designed for a very well senior or one requiring significant nursing services, strive to look as independent as possible. Savvy operators understand that none of us want to live in a nursing home (even if we need it) and thus minimize the appearance of health-care services and emphasize things that connote wellness and vitality. Navigating this labyrinth to meet your care needs can be tricky. Consider asking these questions when visiting a retirement residence.

Care packages and offerings

• What care services are included in the basic service package?
• Are any additional care or support services offered à la carte?
• Are any care “packages” offered?
• Does the residence assess, measure and continually update the care you require and receive?
• Is it possible to change the care package and remain in your current suite or is a move within the residence necessary?
• Is a plan of care developed for residents requiring care and support services? Who is involved with this and how often is it reviewed? Will you and your family have the opportunity to be involved?

Access to a doctor

• Is there a house doctor who visits regularly?
• Do you have to use this doctor or can your retain your current physician?
• Does this doctor see the residents for appointments in their suites or a central office?

Care and support services

• Are registered staff available 24 hours or is the director of care the only staff with a professional designation?
• What is the initial and ongoing training of personal support workers (PSWs) and/or unregulated care providers (UCPs)?
• How many staff are on each shift?
• Can you access Community Care Access Centre-funded home services to which you may be entitled? How do you go about this?
• Are private caregivers welcome should you or your family choose to hire an agency to provide companionship or care? Are there any rules?

Additional services and amenities

• Are ancillary care services such as physiotherapy, lab services, foot care, audiology and dental available?
• Are special diets available such as diabetic, low salt, gluten free, minced or puréed?
• Are there specific activities for those with mobility, cognitive or other limitations?
• What design features, such as levered door handles, lower light switches, wide doorways, low-pile carpeting, higher toilets and good lighting, have been utilized to accommodate people as they age? • Is there a therapeutic tub for resident use?
• What changes in your health would necessitate a move from a residence to a nursing home?

Heather Green is partner of Greenhouse Marketing and Communications.

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