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Memory Care Reviews, Ratings, and Regulations: How to Determine Quality in a Memory Care Facility

By Noah BandtMarch 28, 2022
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You’ve completed the tour and heard the sales pitch — but how can you verify that the memory care community you just inspected provides the quality of care they advertise?

Thankfully, there are several reliable ways to verify the quality of a memory care community. Ratings, reviews, and regulations can all help to give you a complete picture of what life in the community might be like. Read on to find out some ways to determine if a particular memory care community would be a good fit for your loved one.


In this article:


What is a memory care community?

You’ve likely heard the term a few times by now, but what exactly is a memory care community?

Memory care communities — sometimes called memory care facilities — are residential spaces that cater to the specific needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Although the specifics can vary from state to state, key memory care services and features usually include 24-hour supervision, specialized staffmemory-enhancing therapies, a secure environment, and specialized programming. These services are designed to improve the quality of life for seniors with memory loss by reducing confusion and keeping them safe while also providing assistance with activities of daily living.

Memory care ratings and memory care reviews

While taking a tour will give you a great overview of a memory care community, it is essential to consider other perspectives. Many tours are given by a member of the sales team, and they and the community have a financial interest in your loved one selecting their community. This can make it difficult to get a clear and unbiased picture. Fortunately, ratings and reviews can help you understand other families’ experiences and help inform your decision.

Memory care facility ratings

There are pros and cons to ratings. The pros:

  • Ratings are typically on a scale.
  • Generally, they can allow for a rough comparison of one community to another.

The cons should not be overlooked:

  • Ratings are subjective.
  • Often, anyone can leave a rating.
  • There are no clear, simple criteria for distinguishing similarly rated communities.

As with most everything online, memory care facilities are often rated using a five-star scale. And, most are rated by families who have taken a tour or have a loved one who has stayed in the community.

The best way to use ratings is in tandem with reviews, as ratings themselves lack the context to help you distinguish the specifics between “good” and “bad” experiences. Look for well-crafted and thoughtful reviews, and then compare the review to the rating to help give yourself a baseline of the quality of care provided in a specific community.

Reviews of memory care facilities

As with ratings, there are pros and cons to reviews. The pros:

  • Reviews are typically the result of an eyewitness’ experience.
  • The best ones offer a clear, detailed assessment.
  • Preferred communities reviews are typically easy to find.

As above, these cons should also not be overlooked:

  • Unless written by a professional, reviews are subjective.
  • False reviews, driven by a grievance perhaps, definitely exist.

Reviews: Going deeper

Reviews are an excellent way to gain insight into other peoples’ experiences with a memory care facility. There are several things to consider when determining whether or not a community has high-quality reviews.

  1. How many reviews are there? The more reviews a community has, the more perspectives you have to inform your decision.
  2. Did the reviewer only tour the community, or does their loved one live there? A person who lives at or is visiting a loved one in a memory care community might have better insight than a person who has only toured the community.
  3. Did the reviewer mention specific details? Even if the community is not the right fit for your family, take note of things that stand out to you that you would like to see in another community.
  4. When was the review posted? While comments about the architecture and amenities might stay relevant, make sure to check the date of reviews that contain time-sensitive statements such as “helpful staff.”
  5. Is the review “verified”? Many senior living review sites, including A Place For Mom, take extra steps to verify the accuracy of reviews by connecting with the authors. Verification helps to ensure that reviews are relevant and not malicious.

You should always ask a community about any negative reviews you discover. If a community seems to avoid your questions, your local long-term care ombudsman can help you to research a community to ensure their quality of care is up to par.

State memory care regulations

At first glance, memory care regulations can definitely seem confusing. Similar to assisted living, regulations for memory care vary from state to state. But, the good news is that every state has some form of regulation for memory care.

Memory care regulations and violation records

It seems like this kind of information would be all pro, but there are ups and downs. The pros:

  • These records are objective, are supported by law and codes, and are written by professionals.
  • They are delivered via standardized reports from a government agency.

The cons are a little surprising:

  • These records can be hard to find and, in some states, access.
  • The severity of violations can be hard to determine.

Memory care regulations outline what a memory care community, unit, or program must do to market itself as such. These requirements typically cover basic unit and community features, staff-to-resident ratios, staff training, and behavior management methods.

Regulations are essential because they present guidelines to ensure that a community or organization provides a basic standard of care. Most states penalize a community for violating these regulations, but these penalties can vary. While the violation history of a community can let you peek under the hood to see if they are operating safely, it is crucial to note that state regulations are not an endorsement of a community.

When looking at a community, ask about any recent violations. If they have violations, ask the community if the state has implemented a plan of action to rectify the deficiency. Similar to how assisted living records can be accessed, many states have online databases where you can research the violation history of a memory care community.

Next steps in the memory care move-in process

Finding the right memory care community can be incredibly stressful if you don’t know where to look for information. Remove some guesswork by researching the ratings, reviews, and regulation records for memory care communities that you think would be right for your family. Once you find a community that has a solid rating, thorough reviews, and a clean violation record, you take a tour to see if it’s the right fit for your loved one.

Have further questions? Contact one of A Place For Mom’s Senior Living Advisors for vetted information on memory care communities in your area.

Sources

Administration for Community Living. (2021, November 24). Long-term care ombudsman program.

Carder, P. C. (2017). State regulatory approaches for dementia care in residential care and assisted livingThe Gerontologist.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your attorney with respect to any particular legal matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Author
Noah Bandt

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