What senior care specific procedures need to be available in an Adult Family Home in Kirkland?

In the State of Washington, the term Adult Family Home has a specific meaning. There are laws on the books about what services must be included, as well as limits on number of residents, hygiene standards, and premises security. Random inspections of registered and licensed Adult Family Homes are conducted all year long by state employees, and every Adult Family Home can expect to get a visit at least once a year. This keeps the standard high, it keeps everyone honest, and it’s good for both the residents and the Adult Family Home providers themselves. Each year, it could be said, the state likes to inch the standard up slightly in a process to provide excellent care and confidence to each and every would-be resident, as well as create a level paying field for all providers who are considering offering the service to the public. So, what’s included, and what’s extra? Let’s look at what’s mandated by the state, then dig into what extras some of the better Adult Family Homes offer to their residents:

A maximum of six residents per Adult Family Home

Top of the list of state-mandated aspects of any Adult Family Home is the maximum allowed number of residents. That limit is just six persons, and even when a couple if sharing a room in such a home, that still counts of course as two residents. This one, simple law has a profound effect on the well being, safety and comfort of every resident, and for a number of reasons.

  • Staff get to know the residents deeply. It doesn’t take long for a care giver to get to know the residents very well and quickly. With only size, it’s like looking after one’s own family. This means that is an 

  • emergency, for example, a care giver doesn’t have to go rummaging for files and documents to find out what the resident’s issues – and indeed, other issues – are, and be in a position to respond quickly and effectively. For example, if a diabetic faints because of low sugar levels, action will be necessary quickly in order to avoid a simple problem from becoming a major health issue. When the staff know the residents very well, and vice versa, good things happen.

  • Food flexibility: I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more picky I am about what I eat. I do eat less than I did when I was have my current age, but what I eat, I choose far more carefully. I expect, as I continue to age, that trend will continue. For example, I have eliminated all cooking oils from my kitchen except coconut oil. It’s a bit pricier, but I have learned that it agrees with me in so many ways. I don’t cook 100% organic, but I do try to get a percentage of my food from farmers’ markets in the neighborhood. I only do this because, over the years, I experiments with many different cooking ingredients, and only now do I know what works for me and what does not.
    The elderly – mostly, anyway – are going to want to make personal choices about the food they eat, and only an Adult Family Home can offer that level of flexibility. Compare that to a nursing home with a hundred residents where there are simply too many people to cook for to be able to prepare exactly what an individual might prefer. There would be choice there, too, but generally speaking, complete food flexibility is only going to be available in an Adult Family Home, simply because of the limit if six residents.

  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your care givers are intimately familiar with your particular needs – in particular your medical needs – will give you a peace of mind which, it turn, will enhance your feeling of security and safety. You know the care giver (or care givers) will be able to do the right thing, and quickly, if the need arises.

  • Mostly peaceful and quiet: With only six residents in an Adult Family Home – in some cases fewer – there is simply a lot less noise. Noise levels are rarely talked about in this context, but for a lot of us, as we age, our hearing deteriorates. From some of us, it’s because we overdid the rock ‘n’ roll in our early days, and for others, it’s the natural and gradual deterioration of our hearing as we age. The thing is, contrary to what many believe, hearing loss is not simply “the volume being turned down”, but it usually selective loss of hearing at certain frequencies. That’s why, by the way, a hearing test is required to find out what frequencies are a challenge to a patient, and the hearing aid is tuned to compensate for just those frequencies. What this means is, we might have a higher sensitivity to certain frequencies than a person with perfect hearing might have. That train passing behind the house at six AM every day might seem annoyingly loud to one resident, while the younger care giver might hardly notice it. What’s more, a great night’s sleep is probably the single best thing a senior can do for their health and well being. This makes peace and quiet one of the great things an Adult Family Home can offer, but is harder to find elsewhere.

Facilities, hygiene and safety

I can only guess every state has its own version of what the State of Washington mandates for an Adult Family Home, but the inspection covers many elements. It’s not simply a question of having a bathroom, but it must be safe for someone who might be less firm on their feet. A teenager might be able to negotiate a slippery bathroom floor, but everyone knows that a bad fall in our later years can trigger more than a broken arm which, by the way, can be much harder to heal when we are older.

A non-slip bathroom mat, rails to hold onto, shower rubber mats, a call switch or cord a resident can pull to get help, a pressure mat beside the bed to alert care givers that a resident has left their bed, are all typical features that allow a resident to live inside a cocoon of safety and happiness, far and above what would be expected in a nursing home or even in the home of a senior citizen’s adult children.

More next week!