Avon researched and selected an assisted living facility for his mother after she was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2014.
My Experience Choosing An Assisted Living Facility
person found Avon's experience helpful.
In 2013, I expected my first child to be born in July. This child would also be my parents’ first grandchild, so everyone was excited. My mom, dad and lots of other family members were planning to come to the Dominican Republic, where I was living at the time, to visit me, get to know the country, and meet the new baby. However, just weeks before my baby’s birth, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. This set up a chain of events that ultimately led to a brain cancer diagnosis in July 2014 and a stay at an assisted living facility.
The family had already had some experience choosing assisted living facilities. My dad had suffered a major stroke in his early 50s and spent considerable time in a facility for care and rehabilitation. Now, with mom’s brain cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, she, at the relatively young age of 58, would also need to enter into an assisted living facility while the family prepared to have round-the-clock care delivered to her at home. What we wanted to know while selecting a facility was:
• What are the care standards of the facility? In other words, what kind of care is provided: would she would have her own room, would she would get rehabilitation treatment, and other similar concerns.
• What kinds of ratings and reviews has the facility received?
• How far is the facility from her home?
• Considering that my dad was 100 percent disabled and my mom was his caregiver, we considered facilities based on whether or not they would be able to take in both of my parents.
The major issue with selecting a facility was the concern that the staff would be unable to provide my mother with the level of care that would truly keep her safe and comfortable. Here was a lady who just a few weeks earlier was a 100 percent independent breast cancer survivor, and was the primary caregiver to her disabled husband. Now, she was the one who needed care. We were concerned that her brain cancer, for which she would be receiving radiation therapy while in the assisted living facility, with family taking her to the hospital daily, would continue to worsen and that the workers might miss vital clues that she was in need of immediate medical attention. We were concerned that they might not show her enough human-to-human care to make the transition as easy as possible.
Ultimately, after reviewing many options, the family settled on a facility located about 45 miles away from her home. Although there were many far closer, this particular facility seemed to be best based on reviews, recommendations, and a tour. My mother’s stay there did go relatively smoothly, with one major caveat: They gave her rehabilitation exercises without realizing that she had a herniated disc in her back. When she returned home from the facility, the result of the exercises was not greater mobility, but severe and intense back pain. I would say that the one thing we would do differently, if we had to do it over, would be to ensure that the facility’s staff was fully aware of all of her medical conditions, not just the brain cancer.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experience is that the quality of care a person receives from an assisted living facility is relative to the amount of time and vigilance the family and loved ones exercise in researching, interviewing, and reviewing the assisted living facility and its staff. No family should ever simply choose the first or second option; rather, it's best to take a couple of days to review as many as possible before deciding. In our case, my brother took off work to physically go to the facilities, which made a big difference.
In the end, my mother’s stay at her facility was relatively short because the family came together to bring her home and provide the care she needed. But giving care is not easy. It demands skill, patience, and most of all, empathy. We must remember that we are all human, and working at an assisted living facility is a job. There are those who do that job well, others who do an adequate job, and some who do a poor job. In order to ensure that your loved one is treated with the care he or she needs, it really falls upon you to ensure that this happens.