What extra amenities might an Adult Family Home in Shoreline offer in addition to those mandated by Washington State?

There are certainly plenty of laws within the state of Washington that oblige managers of an Adult Family Home to do certain things a certain way. There is, for example, a law that stipulates there may be no more than six residents living in a single residence. That doesn’t, of course, include the working staff – only the full-time residents who are paying to stay there. There are also many smaller rules about hygiene, food preparation, space, lighting and safety. Safety covers everything from fully functioning fire and fumes detectors, all the way to call switches where they need to be easily accessed by a resident when an emergency occurs. Still, even with all the regulations, a lot is left up to the discretion of the managers and caregivers at a given Adult Family Home. For example, the ambient noise level might be no bother to a younger person – the state inspector, for example, but might be disturbing to an elderly person. There are many more optional features of an Adult Family Home in the state of Washington, so let’s look at what some of the more important ones are:

“Wake staff”, or on-site nighttime caregivers, at the Adult Family Home

It’s hard to believe that an Adult Family Home can have no actual caregivers present at three AM. As a friend of mine once said, nothing good happens between midnight and four AM, and I can't think of a place where that adage is more applicable than in an Adult Family Home. Three AM is precisely when you need the caregivers to be available. And yet, the state of Washington does not mandate that. It does add considerable overhead for the managers of the residence, because now you have a full time person round-the-clock who has to be paid and supported. Some Adult Family Homes decide to ‘skip’ with that pleasantry, and keep their fingers crossed that nothing serious will happen during the night. It probably allows them to shave a sliver off the cost of the service, but it’s not a cost saving I would like to take advantage of when it comes to the care of my aging parent.

Wake staff, a term used in the Adult Family Home business, allows a small problem in the middle of the night to remain that – a small problem. If a resident is not steady on their feet, but needs to pay a visit to the bathroom at night, he or she might be forced to make the journey on their own. If they slip, even if there is an emergency call switch available, how long will it take before help arrives? And who is it exactly that is expected to show up? A simple problem might turn into an ambulance visit. Add to the time it takes for that to take place, the ambulance crew has to gain entry, locate the person in trouble, and get up to speed on the history in short order, before they even begin to remedy the situation. Now, twenty or thirty minutes have gone by, and whatever problem surfaced has had a chance to turn into a much bigger problem.

So, while any such problem is left unsolved, the rest of the residents on the Adult Family Home residence are likely now also being disturbed by all the action and drama in the home. What if there is screaming and someone in pain? Other residents might feel obliged to try to ‘lend a hand’ when in fact they too need to be cared for in such a situation. A caregiver on the wake staff would be able to simply address the issues with little drama and no time lost.

A better source and preparation of food

I know from my own experience that, the older I get, the more picky I become about food. When I was eighteen year of age, two Twix bars and a can of cola was enough to satisfy me for lunch, but now, I need to be much more careful about what I eat. I know a lot more about the benefits of coconut oil, beef bone broth, and a good old plate of liver & onions. If I were to eat a lunch I had many years ago as a teenager, I would feel sick, not to mention the harm it would do to my older body. For the rest of my life – however long I live – I expect to take great care about what I am prepared to eat, and not to eat.

In an Adult Family Home – just as in almost any place where elderly people are likely to live – food quality plays a big role. It’s simply not good enough to shovel low quality food in front of each resident three times a day. I would want to know just how food is prepared, what comes out of the fridge, the freezer and out of a can. It’s almost impossible to provide a 100% fresh, organic source of food, but it is getting easier and easier, at least, to source the food as organic. I just read that Costco in 2015 surpassed Whole Foods in the sale of four billion dollars of organic food for the year. For all of these big retail and big box stores, the percentage of organic sales is increasing every year. For whatever reason, the prices seem to be getting more competitive, and people are more aware that non-organic is simply not as good. Many of us remember the sweet taste, for example, of a tomato from our youth. Compare that to the tastelessness of much of the non-organic food available today.

When you go on a tour of an Adult Family Home, be sure to visit the kitchen. If you can see what’s in the fridge, too, you will be a lot wiser. Often, the trash can will tell you a lot about what happens in the kitchen. If much of the trash – and the storage too – is full of cans, you know there’s a problem. Look instead for fresh food and a good smell of real food when you visit.

More next week!