There is an array of seniors housing options which caregivers and seniors confront as they begin to think about moving and downsizing. A good understanding of what these options are and what they offer can help you choose what is right for you now and in the future. It can also help you avoid some unpleasant experiences down the road. This month, Elder Voice explains the range of seniors housing.
The best way to think about seniors housing is to see it on a continuum, or a series of levels, of increasing services, from no services to 24 hour care from a team of health care professionals. Below are terms you might hear, further on we explain what they mean:
- Subsidized Seniors Housing
- Independent (or Supportive) Housing
- Assisted Living
- Nursing Homes (or Complex Care, Skilled Nursing Care, Extended Care)
You might also hear these terms:
- Campus of Care
- Group Homes
- Family Care Homes
Subsidized Seniors Housing: This refers to housing where there are no actual services, except for sometimes an emergency call system in the suite and sometimes an on site building manager. The rents are subsidized and they are not for profit organizations. They are often built and managed by benevolent organizations such as Kiwanis, or through religious organizations.
Independent/Supportive Housing: These terms refer to housing in which residents are expected to be independent. They generally have emergency call systems in the suites, recreational opportunities, weekly housekeeping and non personal laundry, a dining room in which they provide between one and three meals a day, security 24 hours a day.Independent living is generally not regulated by the government as to standards or service or practices.
Assisted Living: These residences offer all of the services available in independent living, plus they offer personal care. This might include help with bathing, dressing, grooming, and dressing, or with medication reminders, personal laundry and daily housekeeping. They will have a dining room, and most provide either two or three meals a day. The help is provided by care aides and managed by a Registered Nurse who may or may not be on site during the week. Assisted Living residences generally have government legislation which covers how they provide care and services.
Nursing Homes: Nursing homes provide all of the services that assisted living residences provide, and in addition they have either a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse on duty 24/7, 365 days a year. The nurse is responsible for the supervision and provision of health care services. Depending on the province, they may also have a Dietitian, Social Worker and Recreation Therapists. They often have the services of Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. Nursing homes are usually licensed by health authorities and operate under health authority or provincial guidelines.
Campus of Care: Some seniors residences provide more than one of the levels of care described above, what is called a partial or full campus of care. The advantage of this is that if a resident begins to need care, or their care needs increase, they are able to remain in the same residence. When this happens, they may be able to stay in the same suite, or may have to move to another section or floor. In the private sector most partial campus of care residences have independent and assisted living services although have all three levels.
Group Homes/Family Care Homes: These are small, sometimes single resident homes that have varying levels of staff to provide a certain level of service. They may or may not have professional supervision or staff training. The homes may have been purpose built, or are homes that are owned or rented by the operator.
Publicly funded assisted living and nursing homes are accessed through health authorities. Private ones are accessed by applying directly. When looking at the private sector, make sure you understand:
Cost structures: What are they and how and when will they go up?
Entrance and exit: Under what circumstances will they admit
you, and under what circumstances will they ask you to leave?
Services: Exactly what is provided in the rent and what will you
pay extra for? Extras can add significant cost to rents
Finding housing can be time consuming, confusing and anxiety producing. Diamond Geriatrics can help you decide on the right time to move or help you stay safely in your home. Our guidance and support through the maze of options can save you a lot of time and help you choose what is right for you. Staffed with caring and very experienced professionals trained in geriatrics and senior care, we are Western Canada’s oldest consultation service for seniors.
- Diamond Geriatrics’ Guide on viewing seniors housing, click here.
- To help you consider what you need/want for housing, click here
- To learn more about Assisted living, see Elder Voice of July, 2009
To learn more about how Nursing Homes and Assisted Living really work, read Peter Silin’s book: Nursing Homes and Assisted Living: the Family’s Guide to Making Decisions and Getting Good Care.