How to select the best Adult Family Home for your loved one in the Seattle area

Most people, when they are looking for an Adult Family Home for the loved one, are doing it for the first time in the lives. Certainly, some people have had prior experience – perhaps your spouse has already placed one of your parents-in-law in either a nursing home or an Adult Family Home in the past and has done a lot of homework on the subject – but most of us will do it perhaps once in a life time, and never repeat the exercise. That’s what makes it difficult in some way, because, well, you might not know what questions to ask, where to focus your attention, and what really makes a good place to live over a place that’s unsuitable.

And not every Adult Family Home is ideal for each person. For those with strict diet requirements, for example, a place that allows for food flexibility is going to be high on the list. For those who prefer a lot of peace and quiet, on the other hand, living next door to a drums tutor is going to be less than ideal. And then there’s the question of location. It might not seem important early on, but if the Adult Family Home you choose is an arduous trek across town, it will be a hindrance to making visits easily. Your kids, too, will resist that periodic “trip to grandma’s” if it means being stuck in traffic for forty-five minutes there and back.

And so, I’ve come up with a list of what I believe are the most important – let’s call them – selection criteria for you to consider. You might be surprised.

Food flexibility

Not every meal is equal. The older I get, the more fussy I get when it comes to food, and when I eat out in a restaurant, for example, I always know later that they’ve cut corners in the kitchen. It’s easier – and cheaper – to cook with canola oil than with coconut oil, but the latter is far more healthful than the former. Even in middle-age, I can feel how food gets stuck in my gut if I don’t have what I need. As a teenager, a Snickers bar and a can of cola felt like an adequate lunch but now, that would stick in my gut. I can only assume another twenty years will make me an even fussier eater. In an Adult Family Home, you get to see the kitchen, and when that part of the tour is on, take notes. What’s in the freezer? What oils are used to cook with? What’s the typical dinner meal? It’s OK to have frozen food – or part of a meal might be from the freezer or from a can – but the more fresh ingredients are used, the healthier your loved one will be.

Food flexibility means being able to make adjustments for your loved one’s dietary needs. One resident might be perfectly fine with a generous slice of chocolate cake, but a diabetic is going to need to avoid that. An Adult Family Home that allows for refinements to a resident’s diet will be a better bet, and will allow them to live a longer and happier life.

Peace and quiet – how much noise is there?

This is a tougher question to answer. An Adult Family Home might be nice and quiet on a Sunday afternoon, but what if the address is also a stopping point for school buses every morning? Or, is there a shooting range a block away, from which gunshot noises waft over the landscape all weekend long? And what about internal noise levels? Is the residence conducive to relaxed living, or do the rooms contain very little sound proofing? Adult Family Homes are not usually carpeted throughout because wheelchairs move far more easily on firm surfaces. They are also more easy to keep clean and hygienic – something that is very important in a home occupied by up to six seniors.

Take a look at the residence using an online map service like Google Maps and Bing. Look at the satellite view of the area to see if there are any potential sources of unwanted noise. Perhaps there is a 24-hour store close by. That might be convenient for grabbing a snack by the Adult Family Home employees at three AM, but it might also be a source of random and noisy shoppers on their way home from work – or the local bar – at all hours of the night. You don't have to visit every local institute, but it’s good to know where everything is, and what might be an issue later. It’s easier to find out now, and not wait until your loved one hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for two months.

Wake staff – is the service 24x7?

It’s hard to imagine your loved one living in an Adult Family Home residence where there is no night staff, or for that matter, there isn’t complete 24x7 care giving coverage, but some Adult Family Homes do not have staff staying overnight. There might be help a few miles away that is called in during an emergency, but overnight care giver staff, to my mind, is essential.

The term ‘wake staff’ is the code word for 24x7 care giving. When an emergency occurs at three AM, time may be of the essence. If the pressure pad beside the bed of a resident triggers at that time, the resident is likely on their way to the bathroom, but if he or she has actually fallen out of bed, or has a medical emergency and has left their bed looking for help, wouldn’t it be best if help was in the next room?

Wake staff doesn’t necessarily mean a care giving staff member is wide awake, waiting for something to happen. It means they are available to respond to an emergency. They may be clothed in their nurse’s uniform, lightly napping on a sofa in the residence, but all they have to do is slip on their shoes and spring into action. Many a minor medical issue was stopped from becoming a major emergency by having someone capable on hand close by.

Staff – do they have the optimal background?

Possibly the very best staff person background suitable for working in an Adult Family Home is a retired nurse. A retired nurse will have decades of experience taking care of medical situations. Working in an Adult Family Home would be a cake walk in comparison. Their experience means they keep their cool in all situations, respond in the correct way to anything that may happen, and know when to call for help. They will know when, for example, to call an ambulance and not rely on their own skills for everything. It’s the next best thing to having a doctor on standby, all day every day.

Ask about how staff members are selected. What are the aluminum qualifications? A business can save money by hiring less-experienced employees, and they may look the same as an experienced one, but less experience – all else being equal – means lower quality care for your loved one.

Staff experience translates directly into health security for your loved one.

Availability of on site medical checkups and medical attention

Last but not least, what about doctor visits and hospital level services when needed? Another thing that costs an Adult Family Home money is having regular visits by qualified doctor or nurse practitioners, but it’s hugely advantage for the residents. Many people get sick – ironically – simply by visiting a hospital. People visit hospitals when they are ill – that is, after all, why a hospital exists, mostly – and come home with a bug far more serious that the one that got them to the hospital in the first place. Having medical staff visit the Adult Family Home is a far better solution.

Ask your Adult Family Home management about what kind of doctor visits they get on a regular basis.

In summary

That’s it. There are other questions to ask, but these alone will tell you pretty much everything you need to know.