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What Should an Assisted Living Facility Offer?

By Dr. José Valencia

An assisted living facility is an institution where people who suffer from certain diseases in addition to old age are moved because for various reasons it is not possible to fulfill all of their needs at home. This provides a real solution because it relieves tension in the family, and the quality of life of the elderly is much better when it is supervised by qualified personnel.

If you have already moved a loved one to a home, you must be aware of the following:

What features should such institutions have? What activities should they offer? Do you really see that what was offered in their advertising is fulfilled? Is the staff who provide care really well trained? Do they have a vocation? Is there consistency between what is charged with what is provided? Can you check that your loved one, once admitted to one of these institutions, does not receive abuse in any form? Do you know what they are given to eat?

These facilities are not a closet where the elderly just watch life passing by or are placed in a bed or in front of a TV all day. They are much more.

In a very general way I will mention what must be offered and performed in these institutions:

1. Architecturally, they should be appropriate, i.e., facilitate and provide security for residents to move or be moved into all areas.

2. The staff that attends them must have continuous training and a very important feature, a vocation.

3. You have the right to regular access to reports on the condition of your loved one as well as the right to verify the veracity of these reports with the doctor of your choice.

4. You must have the freedom to visit all areas of the institution and verify that medicines, food, and services are truly provided.

5. You must understand that these institutions are certainly businesses, but they are not real estate or rental housing spaces or even a restaurant; they are a businesses where all services aim to dignify and improve the quality of life for all of their residents.

6. Your loved one should not be treated with pity, but with compassion, love for service, humanism, warmth, tenderness, and of course, experience; if the resident is treated or attended as a child or as mentally retarded, it shows a lack of professionalism and knowledge. The philosophy of service provided at the location should be just one, based on the above points.

7. You have the right to bring an outside physician to attend to your loved one, or nurses, caregivers, equipment, and no one at the institution can hinder you.

8. You must have Internet access to communicate and observe all the activities performed in the institution (camcorders, Skype, etc.).

The above are only a few points that I present, with the intention of making you wonder if the attention and care your loved one who is a resident of an institution of this type anywhere in the world receives is all right. If not, you should consider taking steps to ensure that the quality of life he or she is receiving, and deserves, is the proper one.


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