How to Be a Nursing Home “Mystery Shopper”

It goes without saying that we all want our aging parents or loved ones to get all the attention, comfort, and care they need. That’s one of the reasons that choosing the right nursing home or assisted-living facility can be so difficult. How can you be sure that the actual rooms and services will live up to the promises you’ve been given?

For me, the answer came when I decided to approach my search for my mother’s nursing home as an ongoing project. Rather than taking a few tours and looking at the glossy brochures managers and salespeople gave me, I decided to become a “mystery shopper.” In other words, I checked out the facilities I was considering in a more informal way.

Here is how you can do the same for your loved one…

Stop by for Second and Third Visits

Your first visit to an assisted-living facility will probably be a guided tour. It’s good to schedule those since they’ll give you a general idea of the rooms and amenities. Don’t stop there, though; I went back for second and third (or unannounced) visits to the homes that were at the top of my list. That gave me a chance to see what things were like during different hours, when staff had changed, and without another person pointing the way.

Get the Inside Info You Need

Even more valuable than those unscheduled visits was my habit of talking to people in the parking lots of different nursing homes. Whether they were employees, relatives of residents, or just guests, I gathered as much information as I could. Did they enjoy working there? Would they recommend the nursing home to someone else? What were their biggest compliments and complaints? Asking these kinds of questions gave me a lot more information on what life was really like in each home.

Keep Good Notes on the Most Important Details

Perhaps the most important thing I did was keep notes on each of these visits. That simple step stopped me from being confused, or merging memories of two different homes. It also allowed me to keep track of certain things (like cleanliness and community) that were more important to my mother without being distracted by other amenities (for example, a large swimming pool) that might not have mattered as much to her. Good notes allow you to make smart decisions and apples-to-apples comparisons.

Wondering How You Can Make Elder Care Less Overwhelming?

It’s easy to feel as if it’s “all too much” when you’re trying to organize life for an aging parent or relative. I know that’s certainly how I felt when I began my journey. That changes when you have the right tools and information on your side, though. That’s why I put together a book detailing my experiences and best advice. ORDER the book today!

Since you’re here…

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