The Insiders Guide to: Facility Inspection Tours #1

Jun 17, 2022

In most cases immediate families take responsibility for looking around for the best aged care facility for their loved one.

Initially you will look within a few kilometers from your home so it will be a lot easier to visit. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way all the time due to reasons such as bed availability, vibe of the place or affordability of the facility.

When you look for a place for your loved one, always remember the following tips:

  • Prepare by discussing with other family members, and your loved one, the most important attributes you are looking for. Is it building quality (5 star hotel) or quality of care?

  • Read the website prior to coming to the facility. Take note of the features and try to look for those while you are on a tour.

  • Arrive and enter a few minutes ahead of your appointment (i.e. 10-15 mins). Observe how the staff engage with each other and toward residents. Often this will give you a good picture of how the staff actually work in that facility.

  • If you can, book your appointment between 11.00am and 12 noon – the time when the most amount of activities are scheduled. Doing this will help you see how involved the residents are in their environment, and what type of lifestyle activities the facility has. You can then assess whether these types of activities suits your family member.

  • Normally a manager or admin officer will take you around. Ask questions. The more the better. Spend at least half an hour with the person taking you around.

  • Ask to see both public areas and an example of the room your family member will be staying in.

  • Questions you should ask:

    • Staffing level – including ratio of residents to staff on AM shift, PM shift and overnight;

    • Staff tenure – the length of time the manger, registered nurses, care manager, and carers have been working there. Pay particularly close attention to how long the manager and care manager/registered nurses have been working there. High staff turnover is an indicator of poor culture in a facility;

    • How often does the facility use agency staff – for example, how many agency staff have been used in the past week? Use of agency staff indicates an unsettled staffing roster, and is a potential indicator of a less settled environment;

    • Request for lifestyle activity calendar, check the day and see if it is actually happening – if not ask why;

    • Request the menu for the current week. If possible, check to see if the quality of food being served matches the description.

  • Book for another tour. If possible take your loved one with you. It is always good for them to feel the vibe of the place. At the end of the day, they are the one living there for the rest of their life.

  • Ask if the facility can provide you with any letters of recommendation / references for their facility (maybe from a past resident or their family).

  • Before signing the contract make sure all your doubts and questions are answered satisfactorily. In particular, raise any financial or funding questions. Often people are hesitant to talk about this upfront.

Most of all, trust your instinct. We each have an innate ability to feel whether an environment is positive or negative. Trust your gut, and ensure your loved one is at the centre of the process.

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