Helpful Tips for Choosing an Assisted Living Home

Choosing an assisted living home is an important decision not only for you but also your family. Only you or your family can decide if an assisted living home is right for you. There are steps you can take to find the home that is best for you. Planning ahead is important. Planning ahead will help you decide which assisted home choice meets your needs and gives you good quality care. Finding the right assisted home is crucial for it may be your home for a short or long time. You want to be safe, comfortable, secure, and cared for properly.

Following are some key steps to choose an assisted living home:

  1. Find out about the assisted living homes in the area preferred.
  2. Find out how the assisted homes compare in quality
  3. Visit the assisted living home that best meets your needs.

Step 1: To find out the Assisted Living Home in your area:

  • Search the internet and or contact the Department of Health and Services, Office of Assisted Living Licensing at telephone number (602) 364-2639 for the list of assisted living facilities in the area of your choice that can provide detailed information.
  • Ask the hospital’s discharge planner or social worker or hospices (, ) for a list of local assisted living homes, if you are in the hospital or in the care of hospices. Some assisted living homes work together with the hospitals, and mostly are independent.
  • Visit or call senior, social services agency or hospices. Ask to speak to a social worker or case manager who can find or recommend an Assisted Living Home for you that they are familiar or work with in the area.
  • Ask the people you trust, like your doctor, family friends, neighbors, or clergy if they had personal experience with any Assisted Living Homes they know of. They may recommend the one closest to you.
  • Call your local Agency on Aging. Their telephone number should be listed in your local telephone directory. This agency can give you information about the assisted living homes in your area. You could also do searches via internet.

Step 2: Find out how Assisted Living Homes compare in quality

Quality care means doing the right thing, at the time, in the right way for the person, and having the best possible results. Assisted homes are certified to make sure they meet certain State health and safety requirements. Through the State Agency report, you can compare the State inspection reports of the assisted living homes in your area and look at other information, like resident characteristics and staffing levels.

  • Compare the number of beds at the facility, and how many are used (occupied).
  • The number of staff working at the facility.
  • Information about the current residents (profile)
  • Nursing home inspection summary result.

Other ways to find out about assisted living home quality:

  • Ask friends and other people you know if they are or were satisfied with the quality of care.
  • Call the State Department of Health and Services and ask on the quality of the Assisted Living Home you are interested in. (consult your local telephone directory).
  • Check with assigned nurse Hospice that is currently in charge of you or your loved ones.
  • Contact local referral and elder care consultants ( ) to provide you a list of preferred Assisted Living Homes in the area of your choice.

Step 3: Visit the Assisted Living Homes you are interested in, or have someone visit for you.

Before making a decision about the assisted living home, visit the home you are interested in. A visit gives you the chance to see the residents, staff and facility. It will also allow you to talk with the home staff, with the people who live, and get care at the Assisted Living Home and their family members. Be sure to call the facility and make an appointment to tour the home before you visit.

If you can’t visit the nursing home yourself, you may want to get a family member or friend to visit for you. If a family member or friend can’t visit for you, you can call for information. However, a visit is highly recommended to see the quality of care and life the residents get.


Listed below are some tips to help you or your family member prepare for a facility tour.

  1. Get Information
  2. Visit the Assisted Living Home
  3. Ask Questions

1. Get Information

Call about Services

  • What services does the assisted living home provide?
  • The level of care they provide and are they licensed?

Call about Fees

  • How is the facility fees structured? What is included with the fees? Room, meals, and personal care?
  • Do they charge extra for other services or care for special medical needs?

See the Inspection Report

  • Get a copy of the nursing home report from the Department of Health and Services, Office of Assisted Living Licensing.
  • The inspection report tells you how well the Assisted Living Home meets State health and safety requirements.
  • The facility must have the results of the most recent survey of the facility done by the State surveyors available for you to look at.

2. Visit the Assisted Living Home

Review the Information:

  • Before your visit, go over any information you have already gathered.

Take a Formal Tour:

  • Make an appointment with the Assisted Living Home before you visit. You or any member of your family who will decide should go with the tour appointment.
  • Make a formal tour with the Assisted Living Home staff member.
  • Ask questions during your tour including questions about the quality measures mentioned above.
  • Look around to get a better picture of the service, activities, and quality of care and life for the residents.

Remember, print and take the Assisted Living Home Checklist below on your visit. Fill out and use it to compare the facility in your area.

Download the Checklist Here

Visit Again:

  • Revisit the facility a second time, on a different day and at a different time of the day than when you first visited. Staffing can be different times of the day, and on weekends.
  • Try to visit during the late morning or midday. This allows you to see residents when they are out of bed, eating, and going to activities.

3. Ask Questions

Use the Assisted Living Home Checklist:

Ask questions from Assisted Living Home Checklist. The Checklist can help you to know what to look for and what questions to ask so you can compare Assisted Living Homes. This checklist has basic information, resident appearance, nursing home living spaces, staff, resident’s rooms, hallways, stairs, lounges, bathrooms, menus and food, activities, safety and care.

For example:

? Is the Assisted Living Home certified by the State Department of Health and Services?
? Is there a bed available? (Is there a waiting list)
? Is the Assisted Living Home easy to visit for family and friends.

Ask about Satisfaction:

  • Talk to staff, residents, and family members if you can. Ask them if they are satisfied with the Assisted Living Home and its services.

Other questions:

  • Write down any questions you still have about the facility or how the Assisted Living Home will meet your needs.
  • Ask the staff about the quality information from the Assisted Living Home checklist. This may help compare the homes.
  • Ask the staff to explain anything you see and hear that you don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Don’t go into resident rooms or care areas without checking with the resident and Assisted Living Home staff first.
Residents have a right to privacy.

4. Choose the Assisted Living Home that best meets your needs.

When you have all the information about the nursing homes you are interested in, discuss it with your family, friends, doctor, clergy, spiritual advisor, social worker or case manager. Talk with people who understand your personal needs and health care needs. They can help you make a choice that best meets your needs.

If you are helping someone who is about to go into a home, get him or her involved in making a decision as much as possible. People who are involved in the beginning are better prepared when they moved into a home. If the person you are helping is not alert or able to communicate well, keep his or her values and preferences in mind. Finding a home that has the right services, and a pleasant comfortable atmosphere, often requires a lot of planning.

If you find more than one Assisted Living Home you like with a bed available, use all the information you get to compare them. Trust your senses. If you don’t like what you see on a visit, if the facility isn’t clean, or if you weren’t comfortable talking to the home staff, you may want to choose another home. If you feel that the residents are treated well, the facility is clean and the staff is helpful, you might feel better about your decision. Remember that the appearance of an Assisted Living Home is not as important as the quality of care and life, and a friendly, caring atmosphere.

Some important things to think about when making your choice:

Each facility is different. Spend time with your family thinking about what is important to you. The list below can help you or your family see how Assisted Living Homes may vary.

Quality of Life: Does the staff treat residents in a respectful way? Are there a variety of social, recreational, religious, cultural activities? Do the residents have choices over their schedule and living space? Do the residents have privacy for visits or personal care?

Quality of Care: Are there enough staff? Are the residents getting the care they need? Can the residents still see their personal doctors? Does the facility have any quality of care deficiencies? What did the quality information on the Assisted Living Homes checklist show about this home?

Location: Is the Assisted Living Home close to family and friends so they can visit often? Frequent visits are the best way to make sure that you or your loved ones does well in the Assisted Living Home. Having visitors can make the transition to the home easier for you or your family. Visitors can also help support you or act on your behalf by bringing concerns to the facility manager or administrator.

Availability: Is a bed available now, or can you add your name to a waiting list? Remember, Assisted Living Homes do not have to accept all applicants, but they must comply with Civil Rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, or religion under certain conditions.

Staffing: Do the caregivers work with a reasonable number of residents on the day shift? Is there a doctor available if needed? Are there therapy staff available?

Religious and cultural preferences: Does the Assisted Living Home offer religious or cultural support you need? Do they provide any special diet your faith practice requires?

Language: Is your primary language spoken at the facility by staff or residents? Being able to communicate with others is important.

Policies: Policies are rules that all residents must follow. They may be different in each Assisted Living Home. Are you comfortable with the policies? For example, smoking may not be allowed or may be restricted to certain areas of the facility.

Services and Fees: Does the Assisted Living Home have the services you need? Assisted Living Home must tell you in writing about their services, charges, and fees before you move into the home. Get a copy of the fee schedule to find out which services cost extra. Then you can compare the costs of different nursing homes.

Security: Does the Assisted Living Home provide a safe environment? Is there a guard at the door? Is the Assisted Living home locked at night? Are there special “wander guards” to help keep residents who may become confused in the facility?

Preventive Care: Does the Assisted Living Home make sure that residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy? Does the Assisted Living Home have a screening program for immunization such as Flu (influenza) and pneumonia?

Hospital: Does the Assisted Living Home have an arrangement with a nearby hospital for emergencies? Can your doctor care for you at that hospital?

Accredited (accreditation): Is the Assisted Living Home accredited by various State agencies in charge of Assisted Living Home and hospices serving the residents and the area? Being accredited is like having a “seal of approval”.

Licensed: Are the Assisted Living Home and current administrator licensed in your State? If so, that means that they have met certain standards set by a State or local government agency.

Certified (certification): If you are getting assisted living care, and or ALTCS is paying for your care, make sure the Assisted Living Home is ALTCS certified. This means the Assisted living home has passed an inspection survey done by a State government agency. ALTCS will only pay for care in a certified Assisted Living Home. Being certified is not the same as being accredited. Also, some Assisted Living Home set aside only a few beds for ALTCS residents.

Assisted Living Home Checklist:

The checklist can help you at, and compare the Assisted Living Homes that you visit. Look at the checklist before you go on your Assisted Living Home visit or tour. This will give you an idea about the kinds of question to ask and what you should look for as you tour the facility and see the staff and the residents. Some of these questions may be more personally important to you and your family, and some are more important for finding out about the quality of care the residents get. Use a new checklist for each Assisted Living Home you visit. You can photocopy the checklist or print out additional copies.

Use your completed checklist with the quality information to help you compare the Assisted Living Homes you are interested in.

• The number of beds at the facility, and how many are being used (occupied).
• The number of staff working at the facility.
• Information about the residents (a profile).
• Assisted Living Home inspection summary results.
• Quality measures for ALTCS certified Assisted Living Home.

Download the Checklist Here [Requires PDF Reader]


If you or your family needs help or more information, you can contact senior centers, Hospices (, ), elder care consultants (, Sharie Boyd ( or call (520) 431-4467, that are serving the area and the Department of Health Services. The telephone number is (602) 364-2639.