What should a Residential Assisted Living home look and feel like?

When we talk about the look and the feel, it’s a home so it should obviously look like a home. Sometimes people try to take a commercial building and convert it into residential assisted living and it just doesn’t work as well. Mom grew up in a home. It’s got to feel like a home. Part of that is looking like a home. Usually there’s a roof of some kind. There’s a door, there are windows, it looks like a house. There might be landscaping on the outside. It should have driveways where people can pull up and easy to walk on walkways so somebody can get from the car to the front door. When you walk inside, is there a step up? You put a ramp in at that front door so if they have a walker or a wheelchair or just to avoid any trip hazard at all. When you walk in, it’s open, big. That is what a typical RAL home will look and feel like.

What should it smell like? 

It should smell like a home. Some people’s homes don’t smell that great, but for a care home, it’s critically important that we make sure that it smells great all the time. We have special air purifying systems inside the home to make sure the air is circulating all the time. The only extra smell I want there is the smell of home cooked food, something that smells good when you walk in.

What should the inside look like? 

The colors might be lighter, neutral colors. There should be shades, or curtains on the window to give it a homey feel. The front room has nicer furniture, maybe moldings around the room, so it’s a more upscale look. There’s artwork on the wall, so when you walk in, you feel good. We want the person in the family that makes decisions to walk through the front door to look and say, “wow, this feels great, I could live here.” Because if she’s thinking that, she’s also thinking, “my mom would be comfortable here and I would be proud to have my mom here.” When they walk through the front door, it’s got to be clean, and smelling good because frankly, if you’re not taking care of the walls and the doors and the floors, they’re expecting you not to be taking care of their mom and dad. 

What other little touches should you have? 

As you walk around the home it should be convenient and make sense. The floors are smooth, easy to clean. When you walk into a bathroom there are grab bars by the toilets and the showers, so it’s safe for mom. You’ll want some artwork hanging on the wall, the license for the home, the manager, the code of ethics, and the numbers for them to call in an emergency. They should be hearing either music or maybe even books on tape, music from their generation. Music is such a powerful thing that really just jogs the memory. It brings them right back and all of a sudden their body takes on a remembrance of where they were and what they could do. So it is a home, not home like. It’s an assisted living in a home setting. If you put all of that together, you’ll have a winning combination for a very successful Residential Assisted Living home. 

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