While every care home is unique in some way, such as its appearance, the background of its owners and the functional levels of current residents, there are many common features and services that you can anticipate. 

Common Features of Care Homes

  • Wheelchair accessibility to at least one exterior entrance of the home.
  • An open living area with a television and an open dining area to accommodate four to six residents.
  • A bulletin board or other means of displaying state-mandated information, which may include the most recent state inspection, training certificates, a current business license and an emergency exit plan.
  • A locked and secured storage closet or cupboard in which residents’ medications are kept out of reach and organized.
  • Availability of private or semi-private rooms to accommodate different budgets and levels of privacy.
  • Partially or fully furnished rooms, commonly with a hospital or regular twin bed, a dresser and, in some cases, a television.
  • Bathrooms with walk-in showers, shower chairs and safety bars.
  • Outdoor areas to enjoy nice weather, barbecue and celebrate holidays and events such as birthdays.
  • Open or very flexible visiting hours for families and friends.
  • All-inclusive monthly rates, although supplies such as incontinence products may be extra. 
  • Acceptance of private pay, long-term care insurance, Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefits and many care homes accept Medicaid, although some require a specific period of time during which a resident pays with private funds only.
  • Partnering with outside agencies such as therapists and hospice care providers, although monthly rates may increase when a resident is placed on hospice services.

Common Services of Care Homes

  • Availability of medication ordering and delivery through an established partnership with a particular pharmacy.
  • Highly customized meals and snacks to accommodate special dietary requirements, food allergies and preferences.
  • Assistance with all activities of daily living, which include bathing, dressing, toileting, hygiene and transferring. 
  • Assistance with, or complete responsibility for, instrumental activities of daily living, which include laundry, housekeeping such as linen changes and tidying, medication management and arranging transportation.
  • Assistance during the night with toileting and other aspects of care; however, not all care homes staff caregivers that are awake all night.
  • Management of common aging-related medical conditions including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, depression and diabetes; however, the level of diabetic care varies considerably.
  • Availability of an on-call nurse (in accordance with state-specific regulations).
  • Ordering of supplies such as incontinence products (usually charged to the resident) and toiletries, which are commonly included in monthly rates. 
  • Activities as requested by residents, including daily exercise, watching movies, listening to music, reminiscing and non-denominational services. 
  • Visiting service providers which often include beauticians for haircuts and manicures/pedicures, podiatrists, dentists, physicians and opticians.

Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.

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