Searching for a senior living community that’s right for you during the COVID-19 pandemic is riddled with challenges. You might not be able to visit the community in person, but the digital world we live in provides alternatives. Many communities that have restricted visitors are now offering virtual appointments, and will continue to do so even after the pandemic. With the right preparations, knowledge, and questions to ask senior living communities, your search for the perfect retirement community can continue with ease.
Establish Your Expectations
First and foremost, it’s important to establish clear expectations for your virtual appointment. If you’ve never video chatted before, it can seem quite strange, and even awkward. But don’t worry – the community team member (usually a sales counselor) will be there to guide you through the entire process. Keep in mind that the community team member or members would much prefer an in-person appointment, just as you would.
Before the virtual appointment, it’s a good idea to do as much research as possible. Browse the community’s website, click through photo and video galleries, and see if there are any resident testimonials that you might relate to. You can also look at the community’s Facebook page to get a glimpse at the personality and lifestyle of the community. As your appointment nears, try making a high-level list of questions to ask senior living communities. What would you like to learn from this appointment? If a tour is involved, what would you like to see? Ultimately, what do you want to get out of it? A general feel for the community? A “day in the life” snapshot? Do you want to see floor plans? Many communities offer a detailed presentation during the appointment, providing a solid jumping off point for you to ask questions.
How It Works
Your first virtual appointment will likely be with a sales counselor, focused on helping you learn more about the community, and why it might be a good fit for you. Virtual appointments take place via a smartphone, tablet or computer, likely using one of the more popular video chat apps available today. Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangouts are such apps. After you reach out to a community or respond to an event invitation to set up your virtual appointment, you’ll receive an email with directions and a secure link to the video app. Be sure to join the appointment a few minutes early in case you need extra time accessing the video app. When prompted, accept any pop-ups requesting access to your microphone, speakers and camera. You can then mute yourself and turn your camera on or off as you please.
During the appointment, you might speak with just one representative from the senior living community, or with several team members who are able to deliver insights and answer questions about different aspects of the community. Generally, your virtual appointment will be in one of these settings:
- One-on-one – You, and family members if you choose, will meet with just one community team member – likely a sales counselor. This is ideal if you have specific questions you want to ask about operations, particular services and amenities, care plans, cost, individual levels of care, and anything in between.
- Resident or Staff Member Panel – In this setting, a group of residents or community staff members will on the call with you alone, or with other people interested in learning about the community. Resident panels are the perfect time to ask for details about daily life in the community. From dining to social events to group activities to how they spend their days, residents will offer invaluable perspectives. Plus, they’ve been right where you are now, so they can relate to your position. Staff member panels are equally valuable. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know the people you’ll see on a daily basis who operate the community. In either setting, having questions to ask senior living communities is always helpful.
- Virtual Tour – In virtual tours, a team member will lead you around the community just as if it were an in-person tour. Only now, through video, you can sit comfortably during the tour. The staff member will likely show you all the common spaces, take you through amenities, and possibly even show you residences. At any point in the tour, feel free to ask questions. If you want to see anything in particular, perhaps the memory care or assisted living residences, don’t be shy about asking.
Questions to Ask Senior Living Communities
Whether you plan on visiting in person or virtually, one of the most important parts of your search is developing questions to ask senior living communities. Whether you’re searching for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care, these crucial questions will help narrow your options:
- How many residential units are in the community?
- What floor plans are available?
- Does each level of living offer private residences?
- What contract types does the community offer?
- What is the entrance fee?
- What is the monthly fee?
- Does the community have a full continuum of care?
- Is all care on-site?
- What services are provided in residences?
- How frequently are services provided?
- How many team members care for each resident?
- What types of training do your senior care staff members have?
- Are team members on-site 24/7?
- What is the procedure for medical emergencies?
- What types of security and safety measures do you have in place?
- What degrees of care are offered in assisted living facilities?
- Do you complete an assessment prior to moving in?
- Are pets allowed?
- Can visitors come and go at will?
- What is the waitlist policy?
- Can I meet some of the residents who live here?
- Does the community offer transportation?
- Is there covered or valet parking?
- Are laundry services provided?
- How many dining options do residents have?
- Where do residents usually eat meals?
- Is there a scheduled activity calendar?
- Are all amenities free for resident use?
- What is your billing policy?
- What happens if a resident runs out of money?
- Under what conditions would a resident be asked to leave?
- Are there added fees for services or activities?
Virtually Explore Edgemere
Here at Edgemere, we strive to cultivate an environment where newcomers and long-standing residents alike are perfectly comfortable asking questions, getting involved, and taking a vested interest in our community. We’re always eager to talk with people searching for a senior living community that fits them best. If you’d like to schedule a virtual appointment with us, please contact us through our website or call us anytime at 214.265.9100.