6 things to know before choosing a seniors' home

After news that a seniors' home in Quebec is being stripped of its permit over safety concerns, CBC spoke to an expert who offers 6 tips on what to look for to find the best place for you or your loved ones.

Take a tour and stay for lunch, advises Matt Del Vecchio, certified professional consultant on aging

When choosing a seniors' residence, it's important to consider what type of care will be needed first, says Matt Del Vecchio, a certified professional consultant on aging. (CBC)

For the first time ever in Quebec, a seniors home will lose its certification over safety concerns.

The regional health authority for Laval is revoking the permit of a privately run seniors' residence, the Manoir Chomedey, for failing to comply with fire safety measures.

About 150 seniors live there, many with reduced mobility. The health authority says their lives would be at risk in the event of a fire.

Choosing a residence is a big decision. What kind of questions should people ask when they're thinking about a residence?

CBC Radio's Homerun spoke to Matt Del Vecchio, the founder and president of Lianas Services, a company that helps people find a seniors' residence that meets their needs. Del Vecchio is also a certified professional consultant on aging.

Here are 6 tips he offered to help make it easier to pick out the perfect seniors' residence for you or your loved ones.

1. Certification

"It usually is a bit of an overwhelming and stressful process … One of the first questions you should ask when you go on a tour – and we encourage tours – is are they certified?"

2. Right type of care

"One of the things you do need to [determine] is: what type of care do you need? For example, there is certainly a trend in seniors who are completely independent and autonomous, looking for independent living and they don't need higher levels of care. But then again … there might be a physical issue and you need a greater level of care. And now there's a lot more memory-care — Alzheimer's and dementia — and you do need to make sure that the care provided at the residence is able to meet those demands."

3. Ask about safety procedures

"Municipal fire prevention chiefs are in there all the time, in all residences. Just ask them, 'How many fire drills do you have? How often do you get inspected?' All of them have to get full accreditation every three years, and I'm talking far beyond just fires. You can ask them 'What procedures do you have?'"

4. Don't get sidetracked by amenities

"We see the pool and the spa and we get a little side-tracked. We lose the real reason why we're there. The adult children might like that, but will mom and dad use the pool? Don't get [sidetracked] by some of the amenities. You have to focus on the safety, security and level of care."

5. Ask about staff-to-resident ratio

"It's not so important if you're independent or autonomous, but once we get into physical and cognitive issues, we need a higher staff-to-resident ratio. Visit the director of care. Visit the nursing station. Most of the time there is a doctor there at least once a week. There's usually an office for them – ask to see it. These are questions you have more than the right to ask."

6. Stay for lunch

"The environment is very important. You want to make sure there's a match culturally – both in terms of language and in terms of religion. A little hint is that the good senior residences will offer a complimentary lunch. Always take advantage of that. One, it gets you to taste the food. Two, it gets you to see all the other residents and how everyone's interacting and it gives you a real feel for the atmosphere and the environment of that residence."

With files from CBC Homerun