Patients, Residents or Families

Guidance for Patients, Residents and FamiliesWhether for yourself or a family member, planning a short-term recovery, a longer-term future stay, or considering relocating into an assisted living environment, active evaluation early-on can help ensure you choose the right place. At Van Dyk, we want to make sure that you get the physical, emotional and spiritual care you need. The information in this section will help you understand your options and begin your evaluation. However, talking to an expert directly can be the best approach to getting your questions answered. Complete this simple “consultation request” form and a Van Dyk representative will reach out to speak over the phone or in person about your particular situation and answer your questions.

Choosing a Care Provider

Whether you or a family member need to consider assisted living care facilities or Skilled Nursing Care centers—each of these care options has its own set of considerations. As you assess care, you can rely on a three-step evaluation process:

  1. 1. Find care providers, facilities or centers
  2. 2. Ask questions and observe
  3. 3. Discuss costs and finances

Assisted Living Care

Based on AHCA/NCAL's "Choosing an Assisted Living Residence: A Consumer's Guide"

Assisted living care, or residential care, is a long term care option that offers varying degrees of personal and medical care. Assisted living facilities come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from a private room or an apartment to a multi-unit facility specializing in Alzheimer's care. The goal of assisted living care is to maintain maximum independence. Assisted living care provides individualized care and assistance in a home-like setting.

Step 1: Find Assisted Living Care Facilities

To find the right assisted living care facility, you'll need to first determine your specific needs and preferences. Needs might include medical attention, personal care, social interaction or help with day-to-day tasks such as bathing, cooking or driving. After determining care needs, you're ready to research care facilities. Ask friends, neighbors, and health care providers for recommendations. You can also check with your state health or welfare departments, long term care ombudsman, or Area Office on Aging.

Step 2: Ask Questions and Observe

Make an initial list of facilities that meet your needs. Narrow your list by considering services offered, location and price range. When you have identified two or three facilities, call to schedule a tour and talk with administrators. Try to visit each residence more than once. Plan a visit during mealtime or arrange to have lunch with residents. This will give you a better feel for what life will be like in the residence. To help you make the best choice, consider the following questions:


  • Is the location of the residence convenient to shopping, medical services and entertainment areas?
  • Can family members and visitors easily locate the residence for visiting?

Service Planning

  • Does the facility involve the resident and loved ones in the service planning process? How often are needs assessed, and who completes the assessment?
  • Are there special programs and accommodations for memory-impaired residents and residents with dementia or disabilities?
  • How are emergency situations managed? What is the protocol for such events?
  • What happens if the health care needs of a resident change? Under what conditions are residents asked to move if there is a change in health status?

Services and Activities

  • Does staff assist residents in administration of medication? If so, what kind of staff?
  • Does the residence generally use a particular pharmacy? If applicable, does that pharmacy participate in the individual's Medicare Part D prescription drug plan? Does the pharmacy provide a yearly review and consultation services?
  • Are there professional nursing services on site? If not, does the staff assist residents and loved ones in making arrangements through a home health agency?
  • Are the services of a physical, occupational or speech therapist available or arranged?
  • Does the residence provide bed linens and towels?
  • Does the facility offer laundry service?
  • Are there beauty shop services available on site?
  • What recreational and spiritual activities are available? Do you have a copy of the activities calendar?
  • Can residents use activity supplies outside of scheduled programs?
  • Is transportation provided for medical appointments and recreational purposes? What is the cost?
  • Are there resident and family councils? If so, how often do they meet?
  • What is the procedure for suggestions, complaints, or grievances?
  • Is hospice care offered? If so, does the facility coordinate that care with the care provider and loved ones?


  • What is the residence's staffing patterns and philosophy about staffing?
  • What training and qualifications are required for staff? Are ongoing training programs offered?
  • Observe staff and resident interactions. Are they positive? Courteous?
  • Does staff handle resident requests in a timely manner?
  • Can private care providers be hired? If so, what is the procedure?
  • Does the facility have a volunteer program? If yes, what types of activities do the volunteers perform?
  • Does the director/administrator have an "open door" policy?

Moving In

  • What does moving in entail? What are the paperwork requirements and the time frames involved?
  • How is the initial assessment managed? Who completes the assessment?
  • If acute or long term care is needed, is the residence affiliated with a hospital or nursing home? If so, is there a priority admission process?
  • Does the facility hold a resident's home if hospital or skilled nursing care is needed? What are the associated fees? Is there a discount for unused services such as meals?
  • Does the residence subscribe to a set of resident rights and responsibilities? Are printed copies of these terms available?

Dining and Food Services

  • Does the residence accommodate special diets?
  • Does a dietician or nutritionist review the menus? Can you provide a copy of the menus?
  • How often do the menus change? Are residents and loved ones involved in the menu planning?
  • Are residents allowed to have guests for meals? Is there a separate guest dining area?
  • What are the criteria for residents to eat meals in their rooms?

Living Space and Accommodations

  • Are there adequate community areas for resident use?
  • Are the resident rooms furnished or unfurnished?
  • What is the policy about personal belongings?
  • What is the policy for overnight guests? Are there guest rooms available? What are the guest fees?
  • Is additional storage space available? Is there an extra fee?
  • Does the residence meet the rules for people with disabilities?
  • Can residents have automobiles? Is there assigned parking? Is there an extra fee?
  • Are there patios and courtyards available for resident use? Is there an area for resident gardening?
  • Does the residence provide security?
  • Are pets allowed to live in the residence or visit? If so, are there additional fees or deposits?

Licensure and Certification

  • Is the residence licensed? Ask to review the latest licensing or certification report.
  • If the state requires the administrator to be licensed or certified, is it current?
  • Does the staff actively participate in a professional association, such as a state long term care association affiliated with National Center For Assisted Living?


  • Does the facility have a fire sprinkler system throughout the facility?
  • Where are smoke detectors located?
  • How often does the facility have fire drills?
  • Does the facility have an emergency preparedness plan?
  • How are emergency and evacuation plans reviewed with residents after admission to reinforce their memory?
  • What systems are used to keep residents with dementia or Alzheimer's from exiting the facility without supervision?
Step 3: Discuss Costs and Finances

Each resident has different needs, preferences, desires and financial resources that should be taken into account when choosing an appropriate residence. Some basic considerations include:

What is included in the basic monthly cost? Ask for a written copy.

  • Does the residence have a written schedule of fees for extra services? If so, request a copy.
  • Under what circumstances might the fees change? How much notice is given if there is a fee increase?
  • Is there a security deposit? What is the refund policy?
  • Can service agreements and or contracts be amended or modified?

The following worksheet can help you or your loved one estimate and compare monthly costs. Not all items may be applicable to your situation.

$_____ Entrance and/or initial assessment
$_____ Selected unit and basic service package
$_____ Meals
$_____ Housekeeping
$_____ Laundry service
$_____ Linen service
$_____ Medication management or assistance
$_____ Personal care assistance (e.g., bathing, dressing, eating, etc.)
$_____ Recreational activities or field trips
$_____ Transportation
$_____ Telephone service
$_____ Television
$_____ Beauty or barber shop services
$_____ Other ____________________
$_____ Other ____________________
$_____ Other ____________________
$_____ Other ____________________
$_____ Other ____________________
$_____ Total Estimated Monthly Charges

Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled Nursing Care centers, also called nursing homes, are long term, comprehensive facilities that offer round-the-clock care and a variety of services, social activities, and recreational opportunities. Today's Skilled Nursing Care centers focus greater attention on resident needs and preferences. For more information on Skilled Nursing Care centers, view the Skilled Nursing Care Facts vs. Myths.

Step 1: Find Skilled Nursing Care Centers

There are many ways to locate Skilled Nursing Care centers, commonly known as nursing homes. Care Conversations are the best place to start. Discuss Skilled Nursing Care with your health care provider, friends, or neighbors to identify options in your community. Other sources of Skilled Nursing Care center information include:

Step 2: Ask Questions and Observe

Once you've narrowed your list of prospective centers to three options, make an appointment with each to tour the centers. If possible, visit each center at several different times of day. Try to involve the prospective resident as much as possible.

In any nursing home, professionally called Skilled Nursing Care center, you'll find many different professional care providers. The number and specialties of staff reflect the specific needs of the center's residents. Professional care providers include doctors, dentists, registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses, therapists, dieticians, pharmacists and social workers. The overall management of the center is the responsibility of the center administrator. Supportive administrative roles include admissions directors, medical records staff and financial staff. Building maintenance, laundry and housekeeping personnel are also on staff. Talk to these care providers. Many of these talented professionals have devoted their careers to caring for the elderly and the disabled.

Social activities are provided in all centers under the supervision of an activities director. Residents should have the opportunity to be involved in activities that provide mental, physical and social stimulation. Ask what types of social and recreational activities are offered and how the center meets individual residents' needs and preferences.

Take some time to talk with the residents. Ask them about their life in the center. Try to visit the center during mealtimes so you can observe the dining room atmosphere, food presentation and resident and staff interaction. If you or your loved one requires assistance with eating, or has special dietary needs, be sure to discuss these items with staff.

Points to Discuss — Anticipate that you will have many questions about the admissions process and your feelings and concerns about the future. The following points and questions can help you evaluate Skilled Nursing Care centers. Remember, everyone has different needs and preferences that should be taken into account. Many issues may be awkward or embarrassing. Some concerns are sensitive and emotional. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable topics, talk about them openly, with dignity and patience. These uncomfortable subjects are probably very much top-of-mind and will provide a great relief when addressed.

Accommodations and Experience

  • Is the center conveniently located for frequent visits from family and friends?
  • Is the atmosphere welcoming and attractive?
  • Is the environment safe and secure?
  • Ask to visit a typical room. Does the living space suit your or your loved one's needs?
  • How are private items stored or secured?
  • How are roommates selected? How does the center accommodate differences?
  • What is the policy for decorating rooms with personal items?
  • What is the policy for residents having a private telephone?
  • Do residents and visitors seem satisfied?
  • What is the center's reputation?


  • What care providers are on staff? What are their qualifications?
  • Are medical professionals (e.g., dentists, podiatrists, optometrists) available?
  • Do caregivers show respect and a positive attitude toward residents and others?
  • What is the center's staff retention rate? Care providers who are familiar with residents' routines and preferences are likely to provide more responsive care.
  • Is there an active volunteer program?


  • What services are offered?
  • Are residents and families encouraged to participate in developing care plans?
  • How are medications administered?
  • What therapy programs are available (e.g., physical, occupational, infusion)?
  • What are residents expected to do for themselves?
  • Does the center have an arrangement with a nearby hospital?
  • Will a bed be held during hospitalization?


  • Observe mealtime at the center. Ask to have the dining procedures explained to you.
  • Can residents choose mealtimes?
  • What if a resident is unable to eat in the dining room?
  • What is the policy on special menu requests?
  • Are snacks provided? If so, when?
  • Are private dining areas available when family and friends visit?
  • How does the center accommodate eating preferences?
  • If residents are hungry at night, do they have to wait until morning?
  • Can visitors join residents at meals?


  • Look over the activity calendar and ask about the programs.
  • How are residents encouraged to participate?
  • Are religious services held on-site? What individualized arrangements can be made for residents to worship?
  • What off-site activities are available?

Resident Rights

  • What are the resident's rights, and where are they posted in the center?
  • What is the procedure if there is a complaint or concern about care or services? To whom should one address concerns?
  • What is the policy on use of physical restraints?
  • Does the center have a resident council?
  • Does the center have a family council?
  • How often can relatives and friends visit? Can residents leave the premises to visit friends and relatives?
  • How is mail handled?
  • How much privacy do residents have? Can they be alone if they want to? Can they visit in private with relatives and friends or make private phone calls?
  • Are residents' personal matters and possessions kept private? Ratings and Satisfaction
  • The federal government rates Skilled Nursing Care centers on a five-star system. Ask personnel to explain the center's current rating.
  • The state health department inspects every center annually. The results are public information. Ask to see the latest state survey report results.
  • Does the center have a customer satisfaction survey program?

Print Skilled Nursing Checklist

Step 3: Discuss Costs and Finances

The cost of Skilled Nursing Care can vary greatly, depending upon the level of care provided and the region of the country. You and your loved ones should discuss costs and finances with the center's admission staff. This Care Conversation will provide guidance on funding care with private resources (personal resources or long term insurance) or public sources (Medicaid or Medicare).

Some points to discuss:

  • Is the center certified to provide Medicare or Medicaid coverage?
  • Does the center accept Medicaid?
  • Are all the services the resident requires covered in the basic charge?
  • What specific services are not covered in the basic rate or by Medicaid?

Family Surveys

At Van Dyk Health Care, we take quality very seriously. In addition to surveying our patients and residents within 10 days of admission, we also do a family survey after discharge. This survey is done on a custom basis, typically offered via email. In our surveys, we want to hear directly from you – patients, residents and family members – as to your entire Van Dyk care experience. We use this information to continually improve processes in all of our facilities to ensure we're meeting all of your expectations.

Financial Considerations

Insurances Accepted

Van Dyk Park Place (LIFE Rehabilitation - Outpatient Only)

  • HEALTH NET (Ortho Net)

Van Dyk Montclair


Van Dyk Ridgewood



Medicare, a health insurance program administered by the federal government, is available to people who are age 65 or older, permanently disabled, or affected by kidney failure or long term kidney disease. There are four different parts of Medicare. Each covers specific services:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)—includes limited nursing care facility coverage
  • Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)
  • Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage)
  • Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage)

Medicare does not provide a comprehensive long term care component. In general, it does not pay for assisted living costs, though it may cover short term services, such as on-site therapy. If certain conditions are met, Medicare offers limited coverage for Medicare beneficiaries who require Skilled Nursing Care or rehabilitation care services. For days 1–20, Medicare will pay 100% of covered services; for days 21–100, you or your loved one will need to pay a daily copayment. The daily copayment can change each year. In 2011, it was $141.50 per day. To receive coverage, you or your loved one must have been admitted to a hospital for at least a three-night stay just prior to receiving care from a Medicare certified Skilled Nursing center.

To learn more about Medicare coverage of Skilled Nursing Care center costs, contact your state Medicare Fiscal Intermediary or State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Visit the Helpful Contacts section of the Medicare website for contact information. You can also download Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care, a publication detailing Medicare coverage. For general Medicare information, visit the Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare or call 1-800-MEDICARE. If you are calling on behalf of a loved one, you will need written permission from that person authorizing the release of personal information. Download the "1-800-MEDICARE Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information" Form.

To apply for Medicare, visit the Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration or contact your local Social Security Administration office.


Medicaid is a joint federal and state health insurance program available to those with limited income and resources. Eligible individuals include pregnant women, children age 19 or younger, persons age 65 or older, and those who are blind, disabled or in need of nursing home care. Medicaid will pay for Skilled Nursing Care, provided the Care center is certified.

If your income is limited, apply for Medicaid, even if you aren't sure whether you qualify or not. A qualified caseworker will review and determine your eligibility. Because Medicaid is based on financial need, applicants are asked for extensive information, such as family composition, income, property and banking or investment resources. The Spousal Impoverishment Protection Law helps a Skilled Nursing Care center spouse keep some of the couple's income and assets. For more information on Medicaid, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), or contact your local or state Medicaid office.


Care Conversations

Frequently Asked Questions