Representing not-for-profit, community-based senior care providers throughout Western New York.

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1. How do I know it's the right time to begin looking for long term care services?
This can depend on a variety of factors. Your loved one may be unable to manage routine tasks and may be at great risk when they try. For personal reasons, you may not be able to provide a higher level of care for this individual. If you feel overly stressed or physically unable to keep up with the demands of caregiving, you may want to seek advice from a doctor or other health professionals in your community. Sometimes just opening a dialogue with your loved one can be helpful. Now is the best time to begin gathering information and preparing for the future - sometimes the person you care for can help you sort out these critical issues. This may also be the perfect time to look into the status of the individual's health care proxy, will and personal wishes about sensitive health care issues.
Use our senior care assessment tool to help you start the process.
2. What options do I have if my loved one is in the hospital, is unable to go home and needs to be moved to a senior care facility?
Many families don't realize that they have the right to choose a senior care facility for a loved one in a hospital who needs to be transferred within days. Often the physician and discharge planner will suggest a specific care setting that has availability. But if you have a preference  – such as a facility close to you or one that a family member or friend has recommended – you should contact that facility immediately and ask about availability.
3. What community care and long term care services might be available?

Seek out help from your doctor and other health professionals about options that might be appropriate for your situation. Begin collecting and reviewing information about different facilities and the services offered. Talk with others who have had similar experiences. You may want to contact your local county Office for the Aging -- they can provide many valuable resources as well as advice. If your situation is particularly complex, you may want to engage the services of a private case manager or social worker who specializes in elder care. Read more about choosing a facility such as a nursing home or assisted living, or looking at options for remaining at home on our Senior Care Options & Services page:


4. What should I look for in a facility or senior care program?
Visit several facilities and programs, and take notes. Jot down your impressions, using all five senses. What does it smell like? Is there a friendly atmosphere? Is there an air of professionalism? Has the building been updated? Is there an opportunity for the residents to enjoy the outdoors? In adult care facilities and nursing home facilities, look for the posted results of New York State Department of Health surveys and additional accreditations. Be sure to leave with printed materials such as brochures, activity calendars, and menus to review. There are many consumer resources available that provide checklists and questions for families to choose the right facility and level of care. These resources are available through this website, and our national and state partners, and (Look for the Consumer Guide under Products & Services on the LeadingAge New York website). The New York State Department of Health and the Internet also provide guidelines for families.
5. What questions should I ask?
If you are seeking facility-based care, come prepared with a list of questions. Don't feel you're intruding by asking too many questions! Ask about staffing - what is the staff/resident ratio? What is the ratio on weekends and in the evenings? If your loved one needs a special diet or transportation to doctors, ask if it is available. How many volunteers are involved in the programs? Is there an orientation for the prospective resident? How involved are residents and family members in care decisions? Investigate the security system. What types of personal care services are available? Is the location convenient for your loved one's visitors? Finally, ask residents, employees and visitors for their impressions. Here is an additional list of questions to take with you on a visit:
  1. Is the facility well maintained, pleasing, cheerful?
  2. Does the staff seem friendly, caring and accommodating to residents and visitors?
  3. Do the residents appear comfortable, well groomed and involved in meaningful activities?
  4. Are amenities such as private rooms, individual televisions and private telephones available? At what cost?
  5. What activity programs and special events are held at the facility?
  6. What excursions are planned for those able to take advantage of them?
  7. What religious activities are offered?
  8. Have your questions about financial options been answered? Were the options explained clearly and to your satisfaction?
  9. Are staff members and administrators available to address resident and family concerns?
6. What is the next step when we find an appropriate facility or program?
The caseworker or social worker at that facility can help you with the process. For adult care facilities and nursing facilities, New York State mandates the completion of a standard evaluation form called a Patient Review Instrument (PRI) and screening by a health care professional. The professional can walk you through the financial arrangements as well. Also, discuss the support services that may be available for your loved one when and if they need them. Once your loved one has been admitted into a facility, your continued involvement is necessary. Family members who remain involved are key to ensuring that their loved one receives the highest quality of care.
7. How do I interpret the federal government rating system for nursing homes? Can I use that to compare local nursing homes?

We support a consumer-friendly nursing home rating system based on reliable quality information that the public can understand.You can find ratings and other information on facilities through the NYS Department of Health and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

 However, be aware of the following:

  • Some of the problems of the rating system include its reliance on health survey results, which can give the consumer a false impression of overall quality. Some of the metrics behind the rating system are very complicated, and the calculations of health inspections, staffing and quality measures are already out-dated by the time they are figured into the rating system.
  • The only true way to find out whether you would feel comfortable taking a loved one to a certain facility would be to visit and tour one. Find out about the facility's reputation in the community and what others think of it.

8. How do I know I've chosen a facility that is safe for my loved one?
Facilities have many programs in place to ensure consistent quality of care. Nursing homes, for example, have to comply with numerous state and federal standards, and are inspected frequently. New York State has very strict inspection and enforcement standards for the facilities it monitors, compared to other states. We encourage families to be educated consumers when placing a loved one in a nursing home or senior care facility. If you are concerned about a resident safety issue, you should take your concerns to the facility's administrator.
9. How do I make sure that my loved one is cared for on a continuing basis, both physically and emotionally?
There are three elements to maintaining quality of life, physical and emotional, for a resident. First, we recommend that families and friends stay involved with the resident as much as possible through visits, telephone and other means of communication. Secondly, most nursing homes and assisted living facilities encourage families to participate in the resident's care plan. This plan is developed upon admission, shared with a team of caregivers in the facility (typically nursing staff, social workers, food service, therapy staff and recreation staff) and is updated often. At regular intervals, meetings are scheduled to give families and residents the opportunity to ask questions of the caregiver team and offer input. It is also a time that you can share concerns about additional needs and/or changes to the care plan. It is important that the family and if possible, the resident, participate in this process. Finally, take the time to establish a relationship with the staff that cares for your loved one. These are the people who have daily contact with residents, and they are often one of the best sources of information about residents' needs.