The challenge: The search for an assisted living facility is one of the most daunting responsibilities a caregiver can take on. All the things to consider can make your head spin:
price, cleanliness, safety, adequate staffing, location, size, nutritious and appealing food — the list goes on.
A tool to use: Choose Well San Diego is a county-funded website that can help you compare details on over 600 licensed assisted living and memory care facilities side by side.
How does it work? Choose Well’s facility finder is a searchable database that lists licensing information, capacity, pricing, SSI and financial assistance information, specialty care details, staffing levels, facility amenities, other on-site services and more.
What else does it offer? Facilities that volunteer to be rated have a profile page, with a map and photos, that includes the facilities Choose Well score. A facility can receive a score between one and 100. According to the site, the higher the score, the better the facility's compliance with state regulations or Health and Safety Code. The more citations a facility has received, the lower their score. (Volunteer facilities scoring a 69 or below, receive a “Participant” designation instead of a numerical score.)
How are facilities rated? Scores are based on 11 Quality Measures, including civil penalties, basic care and supervision, resident rights, medical needs and responsiveness and food and nutrition. Choose Well researches public records on a facility for you.
This passage from the Choose Well website helps explain how caregivers can view the score in a way that’s right for them:
“The best way to understand a Choose Well Score is to know what care and services your loved one needs. You want to match these needs with what the facility can provide. If you review the 11 Quality Measures, you can better match your resident's needs with the care a facility provides.
“For example, if you know your loved one needs help with medications, then you want to know the number of citations a facility has received in Quality Measure 11 (Medical Needs and Responsiveness). This Quality Measure tells you how well the facility assists with medications, among other services. If your resident has dementia and wanders in the evening, then you want to know the number of citations in Quality Measure 7 (Staffing), and Quality Measure 9 (Specialty Care). These Quality Measures tell you about these aspects of care.”
What if a facility doesn’t agree to be rated by Choose Well? Citations, violations, complaints and other information about nonparticipating facilities can be researched on the California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division. (The records of licensed paid caregivers and adult day care centers can also be searched there.)
What if I have an issue with an assisted living facility? Choose Well links to the San Diego County Long Term Care Ombudsman program, as well as the state and federal ombudsmans’ offices.
What does the county Long Term Care Ombudsman do? According to Choose Well, “The ombudsman listens to a resident's concerns, provides information and assistance when requested, and will investigate and resolve complaints related to care or personal rights.” A resident's conversations and communications with an ombudsman are confidential.
By: Michele Parente