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What is a Care Home?

A care home is another name for a retirement community that provides assisted living services or limited nursing care within a residential home setting. The number of residents served is typically 10 or fewer. Living options include a private or shared room, with the home’s common areas available to the residents. Services include meal service, housekeeping, and activities.

Care homes (also known as adult care homes, board and care homes, residential care homes or personal care homes) are residential facilities that provide lodging, meal services and assistance with daily living activities such as doing laundry, managing medications, bathing and dressing.

Limited, part-time medical care is often provided but is not a primary service of a care home. This differentiates care homes from other types of assisted living communities, which are usually much larger, both in size and population, and place greater emphasis on access to medical services for residents. Assisted living usually indicates that medical personnel are regularly on site.


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What Are Care Homes Like?

Residential care homes provide a more personal, familial atmosphere than other types of long-term care facilities.  Residences generally house less than 10 people and are located in traditional homes in residential neighborhoods.  Residents usually have their own rooms for sleeping, and share common recreation and dining areas.  Living arrangements can be personalized.  Some homes allow residents to bring along pets or allow couples to room together.  Social activities and outings to nearby attractions and retail often are provided.

Who Are Typical Residents?

Adult care homes  are a viable option for seniors who may be losing mobility or mental capacity, and need help with basic living tasks such as meal preparation, toileting and housekeeping.  Residents are relatively independent, communicative and free of complex, debilitating illness.  Typically, one would not find seniors who have severe medical conditions that require intensive, supervisory medical care.

Services Offered in a Care Home

Although offerings vary, there are several common services found in most care homes, including: 


  • Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, toileting, meal preparation, walking, and getting in and out of bed or a chair
  • Meals and snacks provided throughout the day
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Transportation for errands, outings or appointments
  • Help with medications
  • 24-hour security and on-site staff available to assist residents
  • Regularly scheduled social and recreational activities, such as game nights, arts and crafts, concerts and holiday parties
  • Limited, part-time medical care as needed 

Who Regulates Care Homes?

Most privately owned homes are licensed and regulated at the state level. This means that in order to operate, each care home must submit itself for regular inspections by state health inspectors who verify the quality of the nutrition, care and health of residents as well as continual upkeep to the facilities. Some states even require background checks of all caregivers employed at the care home as a requirement for licensure. This ensures that residents of adult care homes are receiving the highest quality of care from a qualified staff.

What Are the Advantages?

For seniors who do not need or want 24-hour access to medical care, residential care homes can bridge the gap between completely independent living and an institutional care facility. They provide attractive accommodations, professional caregiving services and extra security for a senior.  Residents can benefit from the close relationships they form with other residents, alleviating the feelings of loneliness and depression often associated with aging. Residing in a communal residential facility can also decrease the financial and physical burden of owning and maintaining a home since housing costs are shared among all of the residents.

How to Choose a Care Home

If you have decided that a care home is a viable option for your needs, there are a few important factors to consider before making a commitment. We recommend taking the following steps to assess the quality of an adult care home and choose the right one for you:

Decide On Your Preferred Location

Many care home residents value frequent visits with nearby family and friends or getting out to enjoy local shopping and attractions. For this reason, it’s important to consider the location of the home and its proximity to the people and places you want to continue having easy access to. Keeping a specific mileage radius in mind during your search will help narrow down your options when it’s time to make a decision.

Schedule Tours

Community tours are an excellent way to get an accurate depiction of everyday resident life and the overall operations at a residential care home. It’s smart to visit during meal times to assess the quality of the food and typical interactions between residents and staff. Additionally, try to schedule visits during times when the community’s dining and activity calendar is clear in order to get a feel for normal life and the level of care provided by staff. Be sure to pay close attention to the community’s physical appearance, cleanliness, and overall welcomeness during tours.

Request Inspection Records

Since most residential care homes are licensed and regulated at the state level, regular facility inspections are a normal part of operation. These public inspection records are a great resource to verify a community’s commitment to quality resident care, including proper nutrition, building upkeep, and cleanliness. We suggest requesting to view the care home’s inspection records and keeping an eye out for any major violations or refusal to follow procedures.

Consider Your Greatest Needs

Although there are general commonalities, not all residential care homes offer the same lineup of services and resources. That’s why it’s important to keep your primary needs at the forefront of your mind as you make a decision on the best community for you. For example, some adult care homes are equipped to support individuals with dementia, while others are not. Similarly, some offer a full daily calendar of social activities and outings, while others only feature a few social or recreational opportunities a month. As a unique individual, the decision often comes down to your specific physical, social, and emotional needs.

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Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

Those with certain disabilities or diseases have more obstacles to overcome when searching for a quality assisted living home. If you have questions, we are here to help provide the answers. Give our senior care advocates a call and read our guides for specific information and resources related to your or your loved one’s condition.

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