When looking for a senior living community, one important factor to consider is how well the staff will be able to meet residents’ lifestyle and care needs. Each state has different regulations and training requirements, but this overview will help you know what to look for and what types of questions to ask as you investigate your senior living options.
Communities of all types should have plans and staff training for emergency situations such as fires, natural disasters, severe weather, influenza and viruses, and homeland security threats. Staff training in communication, evacuation, risk assessment and more is typically done annually to make sure everyone knows what to do and how to comply with federal and state laws.
Senior living communities already have protocols in place to help reduce the risk of illnesses spreading. But when a particularly communicable virus is possible or an outbreak has begun, staff are trained on how to put even more rigorous infection control protocols into place.
Wellness is more than simply physical health. It’s a lifestyle approach that helps residents improve their physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. So at a senior living community, you may find several staff positions that support wellness.
Fitness director and/or personal trainers: They may have college degrees or professional certifications emphasizing senior-specific fitness. They learn how to choose equipment and design programs that meet the physical needs of older adults with varying abilities and limitations.
Activity or program directors: They may be certified recreational therapists or certified activity professionals. They’ll have training and experience in implementing social, educational, creative and spiritual activities for residents. For communities that have activity directors for assisted living, memory care and/or skilled nursing residents, they may have additional training/certifications for working with seniors in these different levels of care.
Hospitality in senior living is about serving residents in every aspect of daily life at the community. Many communities have hospitality training programs that teach everything from greeting residents and how to serve meals in the dining room to deeper philosophies of service and caring for residents like family.
Training for Higher Levels of Care
When it comes to assisted living and memory care, you’ll find more staff with specific training in meeting the more specialized needs of residents. However, each state has different training requirements for staff at these communities. You can check your state’s requirements here:
At assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing communities, you’ll also see a variety of roles for medical professionals, such as:
Registered Nurse (RN) — RNs work with physicians to administer care. Board certification allows them to become specialized in specific areas of care such as geriatrics. All states require RNs to be licensed to practice, which means they must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) — LPNs provide basic patient care such as applying and checking bandages, monitoring vitals, and/or administering certain medications. LPNs must typically complete associate degrees or certificates, and pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses.
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) — CNAs help residents with activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, dressing, etc., as well as meeting other hands-on health care needs. They work under the direct supervision of an RN or LPN. CNAs must complete a state-approved training program.
Knowing you or your loved one will be interacting with trained professionals who focus on helping older adults thrive is a critical factor in having peace of mind about your decision. So as you visit communities, ask questions, and get the information you need to make an informed and confident choice.
If you’d like to start exploring senior living community options, you can use the locator tool to find one near you.