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Memory Care Community Considerations

October 13, 2023
October 12, 2022
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Bre'anna Wilson
October 12, 2022
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Originally posted in the Bambu Care Champions community.

Memory Care communities or facilities are specifically tailored to serve and meet the needs of people living with dementia. They provide the highest level of care to maintain the safety of their residents. Unfortunately, not all memory care facilities are created or run equally. Therefore, it is important to know what to look for.

We will share 8 things to consider in this post.

1. Memory care staff members' routine.

It's important to know how often they assist with ADLs, especially bathing and what the care staff members are expected to do at night (e.g., will they help them go to the bathroom, do they know how to handle wandering at night, do they provide true 24-hour supervision, etc.). What do memory care staff members do with the residents during the day? What is the staff:resident ratio during the day, night, and weekends (1:6 is optimal, but the lower the better)?

Take a look around. Do the residents look happy and well cared for?

2. Knowledgeable, Well-trained staff.

It's important to understand the type of training staff members receive and the facility's expectation for their staff to stay up-to-date on their training.

Is the facility itself licensed and accredited?

3. The Memory Care Facility's Policies.

You will want to know:

  • the level of care the facility does and does not provide
  • any on-site medical services offered, including rehab
  • their policy for medical emergencies and ER visits
  • their policy for notifying family members and what issues will and won't be reported to family
  • policies around community outings; do they even offer community outings?
  • how they accommodate special care needs (i.e., diabetic care, wound care, mobility issues, aggression, wandering, etc.)
  • policy around family/friend visitations

4. The Design and Smell of the Facility

The way a facility looks and smells says a lot about how well the facility and its residents are maintained. The facility should be well-designed, secure, clean/spacious, dementia-friendly, and accessible. There should be no foul odors.

Do they have an enclosed, secure outside courtyard/area? People living with dementia need to have access to a little sunshine. It's not good to keep people cooped up and away from the sun for too long.

5. Staff turnover rate

You want a facility with a low turnover rate. If caregivers are constantly leaving there is usually a reason. It typically means that the facility is not well-run.

You will want to explicitly ask the facility what its turnover rate is and how long has it been under the current management.

6. Food and Dining Options

It is important to know what types of food are available at the facility and if it would meet your partner's personal preferences or special diet requirements.

It's also important to note what the dining environment is like. Is it supportive or distracting? It's also good to know if residents are able to eat in their room or if they must always eat in the dining area.

You may even want to ask what strategies the staff uses to encourage residents to eat if this is a concern you have for your partner.

7. Activities and Engagement

It's always good to know what efforts are made to keep residents engaged.

Questions to consider may include:

  • Are there scheduled activities?
  • Do they provide a good variety of activities?
  • Would your partner be interested in any of these activities?
  • Are they all group activities or do they provide opportunities for solo engagement?
  • Do they have life skills stations set up for residents to independently interact with? (e.g., gardening station, baby station, pet care station, clerical/typewriting station, fishing station, handyman station, etc.)

8. Cost of Facility and Budget

Questions you want to consider:

  • Will insurance pay for this? If so, how much?
  • Is there a flat fee, or are services provided a la carte?
  • What is included in the monthly fee? What types of services aren’t provided?
  • Are there any additional or surprise fees, such as an entry fee or deposit?
  • Do prices increase annually? Is there a maximum increase?
  • Are there any move-in incentives or specials?
  • If you have to pay out-of-pocket is it reasonably/comfortably within your budget without causing undue stress?

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