• Is food prepared onsite? If so, how is it?
• Are there fitness facilities onsite?
• Is the staff friendly and knowledgeable?
• What healthcare and personal care
services are available?
• What preparations have been made
for handling medical and evacuation
CCRCs are an excellent option for those
who are independent and in good
health, but might need some assistance
with daily living needs or require skilled
nursing care. The variety of housing
offered by CCRCs is varied as well,
ranging from ultra-urban high-rise apartment communities to cottages, townhouses,
duplexes or even single-family homes
located in a beautiful, natural setting.
An Assisted Living Community (ALC) bridges
the gap for seniors who need assistance
with daily activities as a nursing home might
offer, but wish to live as independently as
they are capable of living for as long as
possible. Residents in an ALC are unable to
live by themselves, but do not require constant supervision. An ALC offers its residents
assistance with eating, bathing, dressing,
laundry, housekeeping, and keeping track
of medications. They often have centers for
medical services, but typically do not offer
the extensive medical services provided by
a nursing home. An ALC is not a substitute
for a nursing home, but rather is a stepping
stone between complete independence
and service provided by a nursing home.
Often, an ALC will create an individualized
service plan for seniors upon admission,
detailing personal services that will be
provided to the resident. This plan is
periodically reviewed and updated to
provide the correct care each resident
receives. Housing in an ALC may be studio
or one-bedroom apartments with small
kitchen facilities. Typically, ALC housing
units have group dining facilities and
common areas where residents gather to
enjoy social and recreational activities.
An ALC may be licensed as a “Type A” or
“Type B” facility, says Martinez. “A facility
with a Type A licensing means that the
residents are mentally and physically able
to vacate the building without assistance
within 15 minutes,” says Martinez. “A
Type B certification means that residents
require assistance to vacate the building
within 15 minutes. Our facility is licensed
for Type B, as we are also certified to
care for residents with Alzheimer’s
“Your first impression of an Assisted Living
Community is the most important,” says
Martinez. “What do you see when you
get out of the car? How do they take care
of the lawn? What is your first impression
of the staff? Are the residents properly
dressed? How’s the lighting inside the
buildings? What activities are available?
Are staff members all in the same uniform?
Scrubs are not appropriate for an
Assisted Living Community, but name tags
“I’m not bragging about our own facility,”
says Martinez of her own community,
Parmer Woods Retirement & Assisted
Living, “but people comment all the time
about that first impression when they walk
into my building, go on the tour, and
acknowledge that they like what they
NURSING CARE FACILITIES
A Nursing Care Facility (NCF) is a state
licensed, private-care facility that provides
24-hour skilled hospital care for residents
who do not require hospitalization but
cannot be cared for at home. Also called
Long Term Care Facilities, the majority of
nursing homes are staffed by caring,
trained persons who provide an excellent
level of service for their residents.
It pays to shop around when selecting a
NCF. Seniors should consult with a trusted
doctor or health care practitioner for
recommendations of nearby facilities.
Plan on visiting at least four or five area
facilities, and make an appointment with
the administrator or director of nursing.
Check to make sure that information
provided is consistent with information
gathered during the facility tour.
Discrepancies between provided information and your own observations indicate
possible problems later on. A nursing
care facility should have clean floors, and
a clean smell. Facilities with dirty floors
and a sour smell do not put a high priority
on cleanliness, and should not be considered.
Ask to see the compliance survey report
prepared by the State of Texas on the
considered facility. The report will list
deficiencies found in resident care during
routine inspections, and the facility’s effort
to correct the problem. Under Texas law,
nursing homes must make this and other
survey compliance reports available upon
request, as well as provide an accessible
and well-lit place for review.
Another option available is to call the
Texas Department of Human Services at
800-458-9858. While state law prohibits
agency employees from recommending
one facility over another, they can answer
the following TDHS recommended
questions about any such facility:
• Have there been any proposed license
terminations in the past two years?
• How many complaints have been filed
in the past year?
• How many complaints in the past year
have been found to be valid?
• How many deficiencies have been
cited in the past two years?
• How many “quality of care” violations
have been cited in the past two years?