Care homes (also called residential care homes or adult family homes) offer an alternative to traditional care options usually considered when a senior requires assistance with daily living.
Whereas assisted living communities offer separate apartments and open common areas for dining, activities and amenities, care home servicesare provided in a residential home environment.
Single family homes are adapted specifically to accommodate the care needs of residents, the number of which is usually limited to between 4 and 8 individuals. Care home services are usually provided by the owner of the home and a limited staff, depending on the level of care required by residents.
What to Expect from Care Home Services
Depending on the size of the care home and availability, residents can typically choose to live in a private or semi-private room, paying less for the semi-private option (female only or male only). While encouraged to bring belongings that make it feel like home, residents are usually provided with a single bed and other bedroom furniture. Bathrooms adjacent to bedrooms offer privacy but those centrally located are shared among residents.
Meals are provided in a family-style atmosphere and prepared by the owner and/or staff to meet the dietary requirements and preferences of residents. Activities are planned by the staff but largely depend upon the health, mental acuity and specific interests of residents who enjoy them.
If dementia and Alzheimer's care is provided by the care home, increased security measures are required and may include alarmed doors and/or Wanderguard equipment. Outdoor areas are typically enclosed so residents can enjoy patios and decks while a safe environment is maintained.
Who Should Consider Care Home Services?
Care homes are an excellent choice for seniors who need an increased level of supervision. In many cases, residents of assisted living communities move into care homes when their needs exceed the level that can be provided at the community.
For example, seniors that are at an increased risk for falls can be closely monitored by the staff of care homes due to the smaller living environment.
Care home services are also appropriate for seniors who have chronic health conditions for which skilled nursing care is needed on a regular basis. These conditions may include:
- Sliding scale diabetes (which requires frequent blood sugar checks and insulin injections)
- Catheters or colostomy bags
- Oxygen use that requires the monitoring of a licensed nurse
In many cases, care homes are owned and operated by a licensed nurse (RN or LPN) who has previously provided senior care in another setting. As the regulations for care homes are currently less stringent than those for assisted living communities, owners can offer increased flexibility in the level of care they provide to residents.
Paying for Care Home Services
Seniors requiring a high level of care will often pay more affordable rates at a care home for this reason. Whereas assisted living communities may increase the level, and thus rate, for care as a resident's needs increase, residential care homes may maintain the same rates in order to provide continuing care to their resident and reduce turnover.
Care home services are typically all-inclusive, with a monthly rate that includes:
- Cost of care
- Private or semi-private room
- Supplies as needed
While private pay is usually required, care homes are much more likely to accept Medicaid. This payment option often allows residents to receive a high quality of care in a more comfortable environment than they would experience in a skilled nursing facility.
Find Care Homes
Care home services are a terrific option for seniors in need of a more personalized and intimate retirement experience. Browse our comprehensive directory to find care homes near you.
Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.