When the time has come to tour residential aged care homes, you may feel a bit overwhelmed; there's just so much to take in. To help you make the most of these tours, it's helpful to prepare ahead of time.
Ask a family member or friend to attend with you so that you can get their opinion. And if you feel self-conscious asking so many questions on the tour, you can always delegate some to them and ease your load!
Here are some suggestions for what to look out for, and what questions to ask during the tour. It can feel bold to ask a lot of questions, but you'll want to get all the information you need to make an informed decision.
You'll be shown the dining area, so take a close look at what the set-up is like and how clean it is kept. If you're not told during the tour, ask what the meal times are and whether these catered to individuals or done in one sitting. How flexible is the menu, and can it be adapted to different dietary requirements? Ask about whether snacks are provided during the day, and what these are (fruit, biscuits, etc)?
It can also be worthwhile asking if you can actually try the food- while this isn't always possible, if you can, it's a great way of knowing if it's to your taste.
You'll be able to observe some of the staff during your tour. Do they seem friendly and calm? How are they treating the people in their care? If you get the opportunity to do so, try to speak to another staff member besides your tour guide, to get a broader idea of what the people are like. Ask about the ratio of staff to residents, as well as how many nurses there are to personal care assistants.
Some aged care homes allow animals, so if you have a pet, find out whether they would be able to move in with you. If you're planning on having some fluffy friends visit (perhaps a grand-dog), ask whether family pets can be brought along on visits.
Speaking of entertaining guests, are there areas beyond your room that would suit for when visitors come? Is there a nice outside area or some comfy couches where you can catch up, and is there any privacy in these spaces if you need them?
If you'd like to bring furniture and items from your home, ask whether this is allowed. Some aged care homes offer rooms with a TV, phone and Wi-Fi, whereas others have these only in communal areas.
As you make your way around the home, don't just focus on the inside. Take note as to whether the grounds are accessible and whether they look appealing- can you see yourself wanting to spend time out there? Enquire as to whether there any restrictions on when you can go out and how often.
Perhaps most importantly, what will the cost be? What is included in the fees (are there mandatory daily fees)? And what's not included; the 'extras'? You'll definitely want a clear answer on what this will entail.