Are the Workers in Your Loved One’s Assisted Living Facility Qualified?
“Are you dedicated, driven, committed, and professional? Do you want to make a difference by caring for others and working with people from all backgrounds and socio-economic levels?”
Yes, this could be an ad aimed at recruiting knowledgeable senior caregivers for openings at an assisted living facility. And, in fact, the many qualified care providers on the staff of a facility work together to make sure each day’s routine runs smoothly. Of course, in order to ensure the highest level of quality and care for your loved one, verifying the facility’s credentials and the staff’s training and on-the-job experience are vital.
Essentially, an assisted living facility provides care for individuals who can no longer live independently but do not necessarily need round-the-clock care. More importantly, however, you must remember that an assisted living facility is not a nursing home nor can it provide the kind of medical care your loved one may require. And while there are many safeguards in place, there are many more caregiving roles at the facility that are not required by law to be provided.
But how do you know what to expect from each caregiver? First and foremost, inquire about the hiring requirements of the senior caregivers – what are their daily tasks? What sort of training have they received? Remember you can never be too careful or too inquisitive, so before your tour, prepare yourself with a look into the care provider structure of an assisted living facility.
RNs/LPNs – Even with an extended staff of experts and senior caregivers on hand, an assisted living facility is not required by law to have registered nurses and licensed practical nurses on staff or even on call.
Nurses are often required to assess the health care needs of residents in coordination with the administrator and the resident’s physician, serving as a sort of liaison between the two parties. They are responsible for developing a comprehensive plan or outline of care for each resident (if necessary) and carry out these tasks on a daily basis. In addition, they train new hires that have an active part in the resident’s health plan.
As RNs and LPNs are licensed medical caregivers, only they can administer and/or distribute medication to residents. While many facilities do have RNs on call, it makes administration and/or distribution of medication to residents harder as they are the only ones able to perform these tasks. If your loved one requires round-the-clock care and supervision from senior caregivers, a skilled nursing facility may be a more practical option.
CNAs/General Caregivers – Certified nursing assistants and general caregivers are hired to bathe, dress, feed, and tend to residents on a daily basis. While CNAs have extensive training, hands-on experience, and a considerable subject knowledge base, general senior caregivers often receive on-the-job training, learning as they go, so to speak.
In addition, some facilities require specialization in key areas such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. CNAs and general senior caregivers are the primary point people that interact with residents every day and often provide them with much-needed social and emotional support.
Administrator/Director of Marketing and Sales – Initially, you’ll speak with the administrator and/or the director of marketing and sales, who will guide you through the entire process, conduct a tour of the facility, and answer all of your questions regarding the senior caregivers and staff. The administrator oversees all operations within an assisted living facility, keeping track of the staff, and monitoring residents’ needs and well-being. He or she is responsible for the training of all licensed and unlicensed staff and senior caregivers on the premises.
The director of marketing and sales, on the other hand, promotes the assisted living facility, ensuring the proper advertising messages are relayed regarding the approach to resident care, amenities, and services. He or she will speak with you to discuss the features and benefits of the facility as well as pricing, on-site senior caregivers, and any other perks.
Activity Coordinator – The duties of the activity coordinator are an important part of your loved one’s daily routine at an assisted living facility. These individuals are called on to provide stimulating, mind-challenging, and invigorating games and therapies that help residents get moving and thinking. The activity coordinator keeps aging minds thinking cognitively and aging bodies moving actively with singing, outdoor adventures, movie nights, shopping trips, and other engaging events and games.
During your tour, observe some of the in-house activities to get a feel for what residents do each day. The activity coordinator at an assisted living facility is also responsible for special programs and social events that occur outside of the scope of daily activities.
Dietician/Chef – The makeup of a senior’s diet is much different, and meals require nutritious elements that aid in recuperation, rejuvenation, and weight maintenance. Though a dietician may not always be on staff, if one is, he or she will be able to offer helpful insights into the necessary requirements of a senior diet, including reduced sodium, increased fiber and calcium, and more protein, all while supervising calorie intake.
Besides proper food handling and sanitation requirements, a head chef at an assisted living facility is often required to have line experience, efficient organization and time management skills, and a basic understanding of preparing food for the senior stomach. Caregivers agency