Assisted Living Facilities vs. Nursing Homes

Assisted Living Facilities vs. Nursing Homes

There comes a time when many families must look to alternative care, either for themselves or loved ones. However, there are many senior living options to choose from, and each offers very different levels of care services and living facilities. While many current nursing facilities are meant to feel like a patient’s home, with regular entertainment (i.e., live music), on-site services (i.e, hair salons), and leisure activities (i.e., arts and crafts) to help maintain a quality of life similar to when residents lived independently, assisted living facilities, long-term care, and supported living offer very different levels of independence.
Let’s examine the major differences between the care available to senior citizens, and the care available to those with disabilities

Assisted care
Assisted care or assisted living facilities (ALF) offer living arrangements for residents who can still live semi-independently. For instance, ALFs offer limited help when it comes to day-to-day care. While most assisted care homes offer hospitality services (i.e. prepared meals), recreation and social programs, personal care services, and around the clock emergency response—they often don’t include 24-hour supervision and host on-site medical staff; nor do they take in patients who have disabling medical conditions.

Long-term care
Also referred to as rest homes, nursing homes, or extended care homes, these residences offer housing and care to patients unable to live independently. Residents of nursing homes require regular and ongoing supervision due to a variety of issues—including advanced age, or a disabling medical condition or mental condition. Long-term care offers personal services (i.e. meal preparation) and medical services on site (i.e. skilled nursing staff), as well as:

  • Administering medications.
  • Aid for patients with mobility issues (i.e. walkers, wheelchairs, etc.).
  • Supervising residents who have dementia.
  • Aid for patients who have trouble eating, using the bathroom, or bathing.
  • Changing dressings and adult diapers.
  • Repositioning patient beds.
  • Helping deal with incontinence issues.
  • Arranging frequent hospital visits.
  • Monitoring cognitive, emotional, or mental problems.

Skilled nursing facilities
Skilled nursing facilities (or SNFs) offer a place for patients who require the specific care of registered nurses (or RNs), in addition to the services offered in a nursing home. SNFs are usually a unit within a long-term nursing facility. For this reason, staff must be licensed RNs, practical nurses (LPNs), or vocational nurses (LVNs), similar to the caregivers in a hospital. Staff in skilled nursing homes go above and beyond personal care (i.e. meal prep), offering the following specific medical services:

  • Managing and planning ongoing patient care.
  • Inserting IV, feeding tubes, catheters, and aspiration devices.
  • Treating infections and diseases.
  • Administering injections.