Millions of Americans depend on the compassionate care of assisted living facilities. Such facilities can be found in nearly every community, delivering around-the-clock care to their residents. As seniors investigate the options available to them, many have discovered that most facilities assess the needs of potential residents before accepting them. These so-called “walk-in tests” have seniors greatly concerned, and can present significant risks to the facility conducting those tests. Assisted living insurance is one way that facilities can protect their assets, and performing needs assessments lawfully and safely is another.
Needs Assessment: The “Walk-In Test”
Seniors transitioning to an assisted living facility or nursing home have diverse needs. To better serve the needs of their residents, most facilities will conduct a detailed needs assessment, sometimes referred to as a “walk-in test”. These assessments evaluate a potential resident’s physical and cognitive health. Such assessments supplement the healthcare records and medical notes most seniors will present to the staff as part of the overall evaluation process. In-house needs assessments help facilities protect their residents and their staff members, ensuring that the needs of each individual resident is addressed with care and compassion.
The fear about these tests arises from a poor understanding of what is involved and why the tests are a valuable tool for facility staff. Seniors may feel apprehensive about needs assessments, believing they will be unfairly judged. Other elderly people have misguided belief that these tests are used by assisted living facilities to weed out anyone who requires assistance beyond simple tasks. The truth behind the tests is not to reject potential residents – instead, it is to ensure that the facility is adequately prepared to provide the assistance the resident may or will need.
Unfortunately, there have been several incidents where assisted living facilities have used needs assessments as a discriminatory tool. Expensive lawsuits followed, and both state and federal regulatory agencies got involved to prevent future discrimination. It is critical that such facilities adhere to government regulations, including the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Of course, facilities must also address the physical and mental needs of potential residents in a fair and caring manner, implementing steps that preserve a resident’s dignity during the assessment.
Managing Risks in Assisted Living Facilities
Initial needs assessments help assisted living facilities to ensure that adequate care is available for residents with physical and/or mental health conditions. Most facilities will also perform routine re-evaluations during a senior’s stay at the facility; needs change, and complications may arise over the course of the resident’s stay. These assessments are part of a broader risk management plan, which typically also includes some form of assisted living insurance. By addressing the needs of residents, and protecting the facility’s physical assets and staff members from the losses associated with liability claims, these facilities can continue to deliver compassionate care to the seniors who depend on them.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.