Differentiating Care Homes from Other Senior Living Options

Care home resident and her daughterCare homes have become an increasingly common choice for seniors who require a higher level of care than assisted living communities can provide. Care homes are often the best alternative to skilled nursing facilities because the same level of care is typically offered but in a much more home-like setting.

Whereas other types of senior living communities can be evaluated by the amenities and services offered, care homes are differentiated by their quality of care above all else.

In evaluating the quality of care provided at a care home, the following factors should be carefully considered:

Provider Credentials and Years of Experience

The best care homes are owned and operated by professional nurses and/or qualified caregivers with at least 6-10 years of experience providing care to the elderly.

Physical Layout of the Home and Wheelchair Accessibility

Many care homes have been built specifically for the purpose of providing care to seniors, therefore featuring wide doorways, walk-in showers, rooms wired for individual TV/Internet/phone access and multiple common areas to provide residents and their families with privacy when requested. However, many high-quality care homes have been renovated to meet the regulations and standards required by the state.

Homes are typically ranch-style, one-level buildings with:

  • Multiple shared bedrooms
  • Exterior and/or interior ramps to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Open kitchens

Security Features for Residents with Memory Loss

As care homes are typically licensed for a maximum of six residents, the level of supervision provided is one of their most important features. This is increasingly important for seniors at risk for falling and for those who are wandering as a result of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia.

Care homes typically have exterior door alarms to alert care providers that a resident is seeking an exit and some offer alarms on the interior resident doors as well.

If wandering is of significant concern, a care home with exterior gates around the entire perimeter of the property should be selected.

Personalized Services and Care

Whereas senior living communities offer weekly and/or monthly menus and activity schedules, care homes customize these aspects of care to the preferences of their residents. Breakfast is usually made specifically for each resident at the time they prefer to wake up each day, while lunch and dinner choices are often based upon requests and can easily be adapted to meet dietary requirements or preferences.

Since the level of care required by residents of care homes is typically quite high, activities vary depending upon energy levels, interests, appointments away from the home and the ability levels of each resident.

With a low caregiver-to-resident ratio, changes in condition are recognized very quickly, which is one of the most important aspects of quality care in this setting. By monitoring slight changes in mood, appetite and sleeping patterns, the providers and caregivers can maintain a resident’s health very effectively, bringing great peace of mind to families.

Find Care Homes

Care homes are an excellent options for seniors who want a more intimate living experience. Browse our comprehensive online directory to find care homes in your area.

Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.