Long Term Care 101

In an effort to avoid confusion around industry terms and phrases, we expand here on the differences between different types of long term care facilities:

Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Communities and Personal Care Homes

Nursing homes and assisted living communities are two options for senior housing and care.

Nursing homes typically provide 24/7 medical care for residents, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapies. These settings often resemble a hospital, with shared rooms and consistent check-ins from health care staff.

Assisted living communities are geared toward more independent residents who need assistance with their daily routines. Many offer private apartments and community activities, making assisted living communities ideal for those who seek privacy and social interaction without the need for constant medical care.

A third option for senior housing is the personal care home. Personal care homes – which some call residential care homes – provide residents with housing, meals and assistance with medications and personal care tasks. They are smaller communities, and residents often live in private or semi-private rooms as opposed to the private apartments often found in assisted living communities. Personal care homes do not provide skilled nursing care.

What is skilled nursing care?

Skilled nursing care is a high level of medical care that must be provided by licensed health professionals. These services can be necessary for short-term rehabilitation from an illness or injury, or they may be required for patients who need a high level of care on a frequent or constant basis.

Skilled nursing care is most prevalent in nursing homes with 24/7 medical care, but residents in assisted living communities also have access to intermittent nursing care through episodic home health services. Hospice care may be provided in any of these settings.