How to Choose Senior Assisted Living for a Loved One

an elderly woman wearing a floral dress and an apron washes vegetables in her sink

Choosing the right level of care for your loved one can feel like a minefield. There’s a lot of different terminology to understand, at a time when emotions and anxieties are likely to be running high. Senior assisted living is, effectively, the first level of residential care. An example is our self-contained apartments in Rossiter House in South Molton, Devon, which is adjacent to one of our residential care homes, East Street.

Senior assisted living enables the individual to live as independently as possible, in their own apartment, but with a wider support network easily on hand. You should expect there to be a self-contained flat with a living area, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen or kitchenette. However, residents should also have access to care staff, if needed. Usually the amount of support is tailored to the individual, but you should choose the facility based on the availability of services and facilities such as:

  • Onsite manager or warden: An onsite manager or warden should be available, at least during office hours. They will organise everything from building maintenance to social events. They aren’t a carer but oversee the running of the premises.
  • 24 hour emergency alarm system for help: All apartments within the assisted living building should be connected to a 24 hour emergency call system. Through a combination of wearables, pull cords and appropriately placed buttons, it should be given that should a resident fall or experience an emergency, help will always be fast in arriving.
  • Adapted living quarters, such as support rails and stair lifts: It’s normal for senior assisted living and communal areas to be safe and adapted. You should expect lifts to upper floors, smooth and wide corridors, and appropriately placed railings and support.

With senior assisted living, there will usually be a minimum age for new residents. Choose the location and size that suits your loved one. We always recommend choosing assisted living that is in or near to a town centre as this will enable independence for as long as possible.

In our experience, many people don’t consider the long-term needs of their loved one when they consider assisted living. Senior assisted living is appealing because it enables the individual to retain as much independence as possible, which is often a sticking point for individuals needing more support than they are getting at home.

However, senior assisted living isn’t future-proof. It’s why we always urge prospective residents and their families to consider not only their needs today, but how those needs may change in the future. Moving from assisted living into a residential care home or nursing home can be difficult, so choosing assisted living which enables a smoother transition is a good call.

What to look for in excellent assisted living

As such, we suggest that you look for more than the basic concept of assisted living when looking at specific facilities. Most importantly, consider how care can be scaled up over time, should it be necessary. Look for:

  • The availability of support staff ranging from housekeeping to nursing care: In assisted living, it’s important that whatever support is needed can be arranged. This may be housekeeping support including cleaning and laundry. It may also involve a carer coming in to assist with morning and evening routines. The availability of support staff should be flexible.
  • Tailored care plans: It is beneficial if someone is responsible for overseeing the unique and changing care needs of the individual, monitoring what assistance may be needed over time.
  • Social activities and amenities: Many assisted living homes are effectively just buildings of flats wired up with 24 hour on-call help. We recommend you expect more. It’s vital for independence that residents are able to enjoy a wide range of different activities. Independent living can also be made easier if there are various amenities within reach e.g. hairdressing and chiropody.
  • Communal lounges and areas for all: Expect there to be communal areas for all residents, to prevent isolation by your loved one having limited opportunity to mix with other residents.

Our primary recommendation is to choose an assisted living property which is closely connected with a sister care home. This makes for a secure and independent home, with all of the benefits of the care home onsite. As such, if the needs of your loved one increase over time, they can make use of the care home facilities, and easily transfer to become a resident, should it be needed.

For example, Rossiter House is in the grounds of our East Street home in South Molton, Devon. It’s a beautiful Georgian building with self-contained flats, enabling independence for those who live there. We call this ‘close care’. It’s the perfect balance of independence and support, and can adapt to the needs of the individual over time. Rossiter House residents may choose to shop, cook and eat independently, or they may choose to join us in the main home.  Similarly, they may use domestic help on a per hour basis, but they can also join in with the events and amenities of the wider site. On the main site there’s everything from hairdressing and chiropody to reflexology and social events.

It therefore makes sense to always look at the care home available at the same time as considering the senior assisted living.

Choosing the right care for your loved one

Whichever assisted living facility you decide on, it should be comfortable, homely and welcoming. It should feel like home.

Always visit the home and talk to the staff. Not only does this give you the opportunity to get a feel for whether this place could feel like home for your loved one, it also gives you a chance to understand more about the facilities, care and support that are available both now and in the future.

Find out more about our top tips for choosing care for your elderly loved one. If you would like to come and view Rossiter House and our East Street home, please give us a call on 01769 573166.