Individuals who live in Independent living communities must be able to complete all of the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. They must be able to live “independently” without any assistance.
If assisted-living care and skilled-nursing care are offered on the same campus, independent living residents at that facility usually are guaranteed access to those services if they experience a major change in their health condition.
Services and amenities offered may include:
• 24-hour security;
• homes, townhouses, or apartments;
• on-site nurse response to emergencies;
• meal-plan options;
• group dining;
• housekeeping and laundry services;
• social and recreational programs;
• scheduled transportation services;
• on-site fitness centers;
• styling salon services;
• library and other amenities;
• respite care programs.
Independent living communities require payment by private funds.
Independent Living Checklist
Living Space and Accommodations
_______ Do residents purchase or rent their apartments? What is the cost?
_______ Are freestanding homes available?
_______ What are the floor-plan options? Are balconies or patios available?
_______ Are the apartments/homes furnished or unfurnished?
_______ Do the apartments/homes include all-electric appliances, including refrigerator, dishwasher,
oven, sink with garbage disposal, dishwasher, washer and dryer? Are light fixtures
_______ Do the apartments/homes have individually controlled heating and air-conditioning?
_______ Are window treatments provided?
_______ What is the policy regarding personal belongings in the apartments?
_______ What is the policy for overnight guests? Are guestrooms available? What are the guest
_______ Is additional indoor storage space available? Is there an extra fee?
_______ Can residents have automobiles? Is parking assigned? Do residents pay a parking fee? Is
a garage attached to the apartment/home?
_______ Are patios and courtyards available for resident use? Is an area available for resident
_______ Does the community provide 24-hour security?
_______ Are pets allowed to reside in the residence? If so, are there additional fees or deposits? If
not, are pets allowed to visit?
_______ Ask about the community’s staffing patterns and philosophy about staffing.
_______ What training and qualifications are required for staff? Do staff members have ongoing
_______ Observe staff and resident interactions. Are they positive? Courteous?
_______ Ask other residents whether staff members acknowledge visitors and/or provide
assistance? Is the staff approachable?
_______ Does the staff handle resident requests in a timely way?
_______ Can private-duty companions be hired? What is the procedure for that type of service?
_______ Does the facility have a volunteer program? If yes, what types of activities do the
_______ Ask other residents whether the administrator/director practices an “open-door” policy?
Services, Activities and Amenities
_______ Does the community charge an additional fee for the services, activities or amenities
_______ Are physician services or therapy services available on site?
_______ Are professional nursing services on site? If not, does the staff assist residents and
families in making arrangements through a home health agency?
_______ Does the community provide bed linens and towels?
_______ Does the community provide laundry or housekeeping services?
_______ Are beauty shop or barber services available on site?
_______ Does the community provide interior and exterior maintenance of apartments, including
upkeep of the lawn and snow removal of private roads and sidewalks in the community?
_______ What recreational and spiritual activities are available? Obtain or review a copy of the
_______ Is transportation provided for medical appointments and recreational purposes?
_______ What are the suggestion or complaint procedures?
_______ Are hospice care, therapy services or in-home care services offered? If so, does the
community help coordinate that care?
_______ What happens if a resident’s health care needs change? Under what conditions are
residents asked to move if there is a change in health status?
_______ What amenities are available for residents (i.e., swimming pool, library, fitness center,
_______ Are cable TV and all utilities included in the basic monthly fee?
_______ What does the moving-in process entail?
_______ What are the paperwork requirements and the timeframes involved?
_______ Does the community provide any assistance with moving in?
_______ How is the initial resident assessment managed? Who completes the assessment?
_______ Does the community subscribe to a set of resident rights and responsibilities? Ask for a
Costs and Fees
_______ Is there a basic monthly cost or homeowners’ association fee? What services are included
in the basic monthly cost or homeowners’ association fee? Ask for a written copy.
_______ Does the community require an entry fee or initial investment? If so, is it comparable to that
in other communities? Is the entry fee or initial investment refundable?
_______ If the apartment or home is purchased, can the residence be sold to another party or the
community if the resident moves? What if the resident is transitioning to another level of
care within the same campus?
_______ Does the community have a written schedule of fees for extra services? If so, request a
_______ Under what circumstances might the fees change? How much notice is given if there is a
_______ Is there a security deposit? What is the refund policy?
Dining and Food Services
_______ Does the community accommodate special diets?
_______ Does the community provide a meal-plan option?
_______ Are residents allowed to have guests for meals? Is there a fee?
_______ Can my family plan special occasions/meals in a private dining room?
_______ Does the community have a fire sprinkler system throughout the facility?
_______ Where are the smoke detectors?
_______ How often does the community have fire drills?
_______ Does the facility have an emergency-preparedness plan?
_______ How are emergency and evacuation plans reviewed with residents?
_______ Are residents provided with some type of alarm or call bell in their apartment or home to
alert staff on duty in emergency situations?
_______ Whom should I call with questions or complaints?
_______ Is there a 24-hour telephone number I can call?
Independent Living Related Links
Why Move into an Independent Living Community?
Why Choose Independent Living?