For many seniors and their families, transitioning to life in any type of senior living situation can be a new and uncertain process. Whether seniors are moving to a retirement community, assisted living facility or nursing home, the first time any senior moves to one of these communities, it can be overwhelming. Chances are both seniors and their families are going to have a lot of questions about what to expect and how the entire process of transitioning to senior care actually works.
One of the first things that any seniors will do, no matter what type of assisted living facility they are moving to, is a needs assessment test. This is a standard yet very important thorough assessment that most facilities will do whenever a new resident comes to join them. This assessment is designed to test an elderly individuals' physical and cognitive health. While most seniors will come with a number of medical notes and a large healthcare file, most facilities prefer to do an in-house assessment to get a better idea of the senior’s current condition so they can determine the right care needs and figure out what type of care is appropriate for that individual resident.
What to Expect During a Needs Assessment
A needs assessment may sound like a "test" or something to be nervous about, but in reality, this type of in-depth assessment is simply designed to help facilities better understand their new residents. The goal of this assessment is to help provide each resident with the best, most personalized care possible. The actual assessment may vary from facility to facility but typically they will look for information in the following areas:
Most facilities will take a general look at a senior's behavior. This means that the senior is able to comply with the facility's policies, respond to direction by staff and show respect to other residents, staff members and to the property. The goal is to make sure that the senior won't be jeopardizing the health and safety of any other person in their current living situation.
This area of the assessment will be conducted to assess a person's cognitive and mental condition and whether or not they are experiencing confusion or dementia. This way, the staff and entire team can be ready to provide specific care that can adhere to their cognitive state.
The medical needs assessment will typically include everything from a look at past medical history to health issues and conditions ranging from arthritis, cancer and heart issues to diabetes and digestive disorders. They will also look for vision and hearing problems and incontinence, all in an effort to ensure arrangements are made to provide the best care possible for seniors.
This portion of the assessment will also include information on medications administered by the residents and medications that the on-staff nurse may need to administer.
Needs for Special Support
Some seniors requires special support from staff members. This can be a special diet, assistance with oxygen, or the need for a staff member to push their wheelchair to meals. Any type of special support requirements will be documented during the needs assessment.
Personal Care and Hygiene Needs
Some residents may need help with personal care, bathing, hygiene, grooming and using the rest room. This information will be documented during the needs assessment portion and included in their care plan.
While every needs assessment will likely be different, the goal of these tests is to make sure that the resident in question is getting the care and attention that they need from the moment that they start living in their new community.
Why Needs Assessment Are So Important
In many situations, the move to a new home and a new way of living can seem stressful as it is, and some seniors and their family members may not be particularly excited about doing a needs assessment before they get settled in their new living arrangement. However, these assessments are extremely important as they can determine what type of care this individual needs so they can thrive in a safe and welcoming environment when they arrive.
Needs assessment results are not set in stone either. Complications due to aging, along with common cognitive issues in seniors such as dementia, can all cause senior care needs to change quickly. This is why most nursing home and assisted living communities will do multiple needs assessments during a senior’s stay in their facility.
Follow-up needs assessments are performed to determine if an existing care plan is working in the best interest of the senior or if it needs to be altered. Typically, needs assessments will be performed every few months, or when staff members think there are signs of changing or worsening conditions in a particular senior.
Follow-up needs assessments will help seniors determine if new services need to be added to their care plan, or if they need to alter or remove other services. Just as an initial needs assessment can alter the cost of assisted living, many times follow up needs assessments can also change or impact the cost of a person's care plan, depending on the individual facility.
Questions to Ask During a Needs Assessment
While the needs assessment process will typically include a number of questions for the new senior resident, seniors and their family members should also be ready to ask questions as well during this testing period. Questions to ask include:
- How often are staff members able to check on residents?
- What is the plan for executing this care?
- When do you plan on doing another reassessment?
- Are there skilled staffers available to respond to emergencies?
- Who will be administering any medications?
- What is your standard procedure for monitoring your residents?
This information can let any senior and their loved ones understand not only what their care plan is, but how the senior assisted living is planning on addressing and executing a senior's care plan.