Choosing the right memory care community in Basking Ridge, NJ for a loved one can feel like a big task. You’ll want to know that your loved one is in good hands, no matter what. When you start to look at different communities and programs, there are several important factors to keep in mind when narrowing down your choices. One of the most important factors is the memory care staff in the community. Family members should be able to know and trust that their loved one is safe and well taken care of, day and night.
 But how can you know whether the staff at a memory care community is doing a good job? And how can you know whether they’re the right fit to look after your loved one? In this blog post, we’ll list several key aspects and questions to keep in mind when evaluating staff at a memory care community in Basking Ridge, NJ.

Specialized Training

Care for seniors living with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, requires unique medical care. It is crucial that the memory care community you choose for your loved one provides special training to all its staff members. Community staff that are equipped with in-depth knowledge and best care practices for dementia will be able to provide better hands-on care to their residents. Specialized dementia care training allows caretakers to interact more compassionately, patiently, and meaningfully with residents. Staff is taught how to best respond to different situations that may arise. This includes being extra aware of symptoms and behaviors seniors with dementia display, such as wandering off, getting lost or confused, or experiencing anxiety and depression.
Staff with unique dementia care training also have the knowledge to suggest and initiate certain activities that can help seniors with cognitive challenges feel better or improve in their everyday tasks.

Staff-to-Resident Ratio

In any senior living community, you’ll want to make sure the staff ratio is always in line with the number of residents they accept. For dementia care communities this is even more important, as residents may need a little extra attention or support with daily tasks. When visiting your selected senior living communities, be direct and ask the manager about their staff-to-resident ratio. The most fitting staff-to-resident ratio in memory care communities is between 5:1 and 8:1 (residents to caregivers), depending on the community’s size and whether the care is for daytime or nighttime duties.
When asking the community about their staff-to-resident ratio, it is also worth checking about how residents can reach off-site doctors and nurses. The best memory care communities are equipped and well prepared for emergencies, as well as provide easy access and transportation for further medical care when needed.

Staff Interactions With Residents

This may seem obvious, but you should pay close attention to how the care staff interacts with the residents when you visit. Does the staff sit with the residents before or after meals? How much do they chat with the residents? Do they engage them in games and activities that the residents enjoy?
Another way to see how involved staff is with their residents is by asking them questions about the residents. Do they know the names or little details or facts of residents? If staff members barely know anything about their residents, this could be a red flag and an indication that their interaction with residents is minimal in this community. You will want to know that your beloved senior is surrounded by caring people and staff who put the residents’ well-being first in every way.

Staff’s Behaviors: How Happy Does the Staff Truly Seem?

Staff interactions with residents give you a good clue as to their involvement. However, we suggest going one step further when evaluating memory care staff. Observe the staff’s mood and independent behaviors, when they are not directly interacting with residents or when they think no one is looking. Does the staff appear to perform their tasks mechanically? Are staff members brisk to answer questions, or turn away quickly from residents? Do they possibly seem bored, or worse, have an irritated look on their face? Or do they seem to genuinely enjoy interacting with the residents and their families?
You can also check to see how the staff acts among each other. If you notice snickering or gossiping by staff members, this could be a warning sign that the working atmosphere isn’t the best in this community. The staff in the most caring senior living communities are truly happy at their work. They receive adequate support, training, and help, where needed. The community promotes an open and supportive environment where residents and staff alike feel safe and well-supported by peers as well as community management.

Look at Staff Turnover

Another key factor in evaluating staff at a dementia care community is to examine the community staff’s turnover rate. If new employees seem to come and go quickly, could this be a sign that staff isn’t really treated well there? This also diminishes the way that care staff can get to know and form deeper bonds with the residents. When looking at senior living staff turnover, a lower rate is typically preferred.

How Involved Is Management?

While the care staff will be the primary people looking after your loved one, don’t disregard how management is involved (or is not). If upper management and directors primarily keep to themselves or “hide” in their offices, this could be a red flag. It may mean that they don’t really care how residents are doing. If community directors seem unapproachable, imagine how difficult it could be to resolve a minor issue or ask for a specific adjustment for your loved one when needed. In a warm and caring memory care community, you will see management and directors mingling with the entire care team and the residents and their families. This means, the community cares “from the top down” how well your residents are doing, whether they’re happy or need anything, and how well you and their entire family are integrated.
To get the best overview and answers to your questions, we recommend visiting each memory care community you’re considering in the Basking Ridge area in person. Schedule a tour to see the community grounds first-hand, speak to the staff and management, and watch the residents enjoy their days in action.
Are you looking for more information on how you can best help your loved one living with dementia? Take a look at our comprehensive resource, The Caregiver’s Complete Guide to Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care. In it, you’ll find answers to several key questions family members and loved ones may experience at this time. It covers concerns from an early dementia diagnosis to tips for the best continued care and environment for seniors living with dementia. Download your copy of the free guide here!

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