YOU and Your Doctor Are Your Medical Team – March 2023

Part 2

This is part 2 – suggesting the type of questions to ask when you are touring a potential care facility and meet with the person in charge of the facility, or their representative. Part One in the February column dealt with things to observe when looking at prospective care facilities.

Below I have created ‘categories’ of questions types, to help focus on during the discussions. As I have limited word space for the column, I have made the questions as brief as possible.

Facility – General questions: Manager of the facility? How long in business? Owner & Contact info? What level of care is provided? [Independent, Assisted Living, or ‘full’ Nursing care/Memory care].  What info is needed at time of admission?

Safety features:  Wheel chair ramps?  What protection is provided for people who wander? How can a resident find staff to help them—i.e. when in their room/bed/bathroom? Do staff check on each resident on a regular basis? -how often? Fire extinguishers? Outside grounds safe for walking?

Money: What is monthly cost? What does it cover? Extra charges – for what/how much? How is billing handled?  How is prescription medications paid? If the Facility physician is the resident’s doctor, how is that paid? If the resident has to be transported as an emergency to an acute facility/hospital, how is that immediate transport bill paid? Accommodations: How many residents in a room? Private bathroom?  Private TV?  Phone? How can the resident make a phone call? Is a pet allowed? Have personal items [aside from clothing] i.e. furniture allowed – what?  If the resident needs a walker/ wheelchair – do they need to supply their own? How are resident’s able to stay in touch / communication with family/friends?

Meals: Provide special dietary meals, i.e. diabetic? Meals served in communal setting? Meals brought to room? Meals fed [by staff] to those unable to self-feed?

Activities: What kinds of activities are available? i.e. organized physical [and mental] exercise activities? Have access to a computer? Is there a library? A communal TV?

Medical Care: Do you need your own private physician?  Can that doctor care for the resident at this facility ? If you do not have your own private physician, is there a facility doctor? Who? Is there a physician on call for emergencies? What is the facility’s procedure for emergency medical care? i.e. notification of resident’s responsible person? What transportation arrangements are there for emergencies (i.e. ambulances)? Where is the resident transported to in a medical emergency? If the resident’s level of care changes/increases which then necessitates / requires more care than the facility can provide, or what had been provided initially – what happens? How are medications dispensed? Level of nursing care available? Oral medication administration? Wound/dressing care? IV therapy? If a person needs prescribed Physical Therapy, etc.. how is this handled? Staffing: how many on each shift: Licensed nurses? “Nursing assistants”? Is the staff trained in CPR? – who? On all shifts? Does staff speak English? What kind of “training” have the staff had that enables them to perform their work?

I suggest before going into the facility, have questions written down; write down the answers, including the name of the person you are speaking with and their position. This is an emotional and serious decision, and it requires gathering as much information possible, so when a facility is chosen you feel that the best decision was made. I hope that the information I have written about based on my experience helps guide you in your search.

There are 2 local FREE Caregiver Support   Groups:   LCS / Lake Chapala Society  –  Caregivers of Spouses With Dementia Support Group – Tuesday mornings, Contact: Cathey Merrill, 713-253-3537;,  and Valerie Rhoda – Free confidential Caregiver Support Group meets on the 1st & 3rd Monday at 11 AM   on ZOOM    376-766-4522.; [private counseling for a fee].

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

Jackie Kellum

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