Your own power of observation can reveal more about a senior residential community than a brochure can ever tell you. The following list suggests some of the most important things to look for when you tour a retirement community. As you are touring, remember that it is not just a beautiful décor that counts, but the overall lifestyle.
Staff Attitude and Friendliness
Observe the staff interacting with residents. Do they listen respectfully and make eye contact? Do they greet residents by name? Are staff members appropriately dressed and polite to each other? Do you feel welcomed while you tour? Are the directors willing and available to meet with you?
Cleanliness and Maintenance
Is the community fresh and clean? Are facilities in good repair? Look past the community's furnishings and into corners, baseboards and windows.
Safety and Security
Ask about staffing to understand who will be on–site to respond in the event of an emergency. Are there licensed nurses on staff or just nursing assistants? Is there any security during off–hours? How does a resident contact staff if they have an emergency in their apartment home?
Are community amenities easily accessible to residents who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices? Are apartment bathrooms accessible, with grab bars in convenient locations? What other safety features are available throughout the community?
Programs and Activities
Ask if the community has a staff member dedicated to planning services and programs for residents. If the community publishes a resident newsletter and/or events calendar, ask for sample copies. View the community events calendar to see if the programs and activities match your interests. Look for small and large group activities, trips or outings. Inquire about religious activities, such as Bible studies or worship services, if this is important.
When you make an appointment for your tour, arrange to have lunch or dinner in the dining room. Is the dining area pleasant and welcoming? Are wait staff polite and attentive? Does the food look, smell and taste good? Can you choose from a variety of entrées? Ask to view additional sample menus. Are the dining hours and guest procedures compatible with your lifestyle?
Are there accessible and safe areas around the community for walking? Are the grounds landscaped and well maintained? Do they have a courtyard, recreational areas or outdoor dining area? Are there areas for residents to garden? What types of outdoor activities are available? Find out if the staff uses the same outdoor areas for breaks.
Trust Your Instincts
Does the community's appearance appeal to you? As you tour the community, can you imagine yourself living there and being comfortable? Did you feel at ease while touring? Do the residents seem like people you would enjoy getting to know? Does the community's level of formality or informality match your lifestyle?
Management and Financial Performance
PR Web suggests checking the background of the community: Find out who owns and manages the community, as well as the track record of management. Review the financial performance of the organization. Get detailed information about fees. Learn what the fees do and do not include, when fees are subject to increase and under what conditions. Ask about the criteria used to refund any amounts due back to you.