The kitchen table conversations of more and more American families are turning to the topic of personal care homes for a reason. More than 34 million Americans provide care for an adult age 50 or older each year, and those numbers are forecast to grow as both the population of Pennsylvania and of the entire United States continues to age. Most caregivers provide care in the home, but there often comes a time when living at home is no longer safe or feasible for an older adult.
Maybe mom needs constant reminders to take her medication. Maybe dad has lost a significant amount of weight because he forgets to eat or is not eating well-balanced meals. Maybe they have fallen and injured themselves, or no longer comb their hair. These can all be warning signs that a loved one needs more care and support to accomplish the tasks of daily living that were once routine and accomplished easily.
When that time comes, families and caregivers often begin investigating senior living options near them, including personal care homes and assisted living facilities.
Personal care homes provide a home-like place of rest, comfort, engagement, and safety for today’s older adults. They offer shelter, meals, and assistance with activities of daily living, as well as a sense of community and a variety of social and recreational activities to enjoy with friends and neighbors. While nursing homes provide skilled nursing care for seniors who are very sick or bed-bound, personal care homes offer a wider variety of services that address the social needs of residents and create environments that feel like home, while also providing around-the-clock attention and support with daily living, to ensure your loved one’s safety.
These facilities have evolved over the years to meet the needs of today’s aging population. As this industry has changed, the terms “personal care” and “assisted living” have emerged as separate categorizations to help consumers make informed choices about what kinds of facilities best meet their needs. While these terms once were used interchangeably, the state of Pennsylvania now licenses senior living facilities as either “personal care” or “assisted living” based on the services they offer.
When choosing a personal care home for yourself or a loved one, it is important to understand what is meant by these terms and determine which kind of environment will best serve your family’s needs.
What Is the Difference Between Personal Care Homes and Assisted Living Facilities?
Pennsylvania distinguishes personal care homes and assisted living residences based on three criteria:
Assisted living residences allow residents to “age in place.” This means that residents may continue to stay at an assisted living facility as their healthcare needs increase, rather than relocating to another facility. Personal care homes are best suited to residents who do not require advanced care. Residents of these homes may need to relocate to other facilities if their needs change.
Assisted living residences are required to provide residents with a lockable door, a private bathroom, and a small kitchen. While personal care homes are not required to provide these amenities, the construction of the facility may include these and others depending on the facility.
Level of Care
Assisted living residences are required to provide skilled nursing care to all residents whose needs require advanced medical attention.
Personal care homes assist residents with activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene, maintenance of their living spaces, and other daily tasks. Most do not offer medical attention, because they are not required to do so. However, Pine Run Lakeview exceeds those standards by offering a personal care home setting that includes a nurse on-site 24/7.
What Services Do Personal Care Homes Offer?
Personal care homes are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. They may be privately owned or operated by local governments or a nonprofit agency. Pine Run, for example, is a not-for-profit community certified by Medicare and Medicaid. Every staff member at Pine Run is committed to providing a warm sense of community and healing environment to our seniors and their loved ones throughout our continuum of care.
In Pennsylvania, personal care homes may be licensed to care for as few as four people and as many as several hundred. Personal care homes typically offer assistance with a wide range of activities and needs, including:
- Walking/getting in and out of bed or chair
- Toileting/bowel and bladder management
- Personal hygiene
- Arranging for and managing health care
- Making/keeping doctor’s appointments
- Medication management
- Positioning in bed or chair
- Doing laundry
- Arranging for transportation
- Shopping/managing finances
- Using the telephone/writing letters
- Caring for possessions
- Participating in social/life enrichment activities
- Using prosthetics
- Getting and caring for seasonal clothes
These services vary depending on the facility. When determining whether a personal care home is the best fit for you or your loved one, it is important to research the services offered by each residence. Many personal care homes offer some of the services the state of Pennsylvania requires of assisted living residences. Some retirement communities offer personal care services at certain campuses and assisted living services at others. Understanding the kind of care your loved one needs and how it matches with the residences you are researching will help you choose the facility that will make the most comfortable, and safest, home for your loved one.
Before a new resident moves into Pine Run Lakeview, they are given a thorough physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual status assessment. The results of the assessment are used to create a detailed care plan, outlining how staff members will provide personalized care for each resident.
Proceed With Sensitivity
The search for a personal care home in Pennsylvania may be a sensitive topic for your family, as it is for many families. The first step in any search for care is to talk to and listen to your loved one. Find out what amenities they are looking for, what they are most concerned about, if anything, and ask them to identify their top priorities for a home.
Older adults often fear losing their independence or being too far away from family members. Reassuring them that a personal care home could provide them with the support and care they need to remain independent often brings peace of mind.
Today’s personal care homes and retirement communities usually offer fun and exciting life enrichment opportunities, from art classes to meditation sessions to happy hours, bingo, book clubs, and more. These enrichment activities ensure that your loved one stays active and engaged
What To Look For in a Personal Care Home
A variety of considerations must be made when choosing a senior living residence. Location, social activities, and other factors likely will play a role in the decision-making process, as will your budget. In Pennsylvania, Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for personal care homes, so residents and families pay out-of-pocket. Understanding what your budget can afford is an important part of the decision-making process; Pine Run’s experts are available to help review your family’s situation.
When it comes time to make a decision, families should consider preparing a checklist that contains the most important priorities for you or your loved one’s living accommodations. For example, if your loved one requires memory care, it is important to determine whether the residence offers special programs for memory-impaired residents and residents with dementia. If your loved one has a disability, the facility should offer programs that cater to their specific needs. If your loved one is juggling several conditions and medications, a personal care home with a nurse on-site around the clock, like Pine Run Lakeview, can help ensure your loved one’s care plan is followed correctly.
Floor Plan Options at Pine Run Lakeview
Pine Run Lakeview offers residents the privacy of private suites, with the security of an emergency call system in each one. Our two-story building in the heart of Doylestown Borough offers residential accommodations including:
- Private Suite for one person, with large private bathroom
- Companion Suite for two people, to accommodate couples’ or for singles who want more space
- Arbor Suite in a secure neighborhood for memory care
- Short-term Vacation or Respite stays to offer caregivers rest or vacation time.
At Pine Run Lakeview, both floors have well-appointed common areas, making it easy for residents to socialize in several inviting sitting areas — the great room, activity room, dining room, and welcoming front porch.
Lakeview offers each resident a wide variety of important supports for healthy living, including:
- An individualized support plan
- A 24-hour wellness center
- Licensed nurses and trained caregivers available around the clock
- Medication management
- Nutritional monitoring
- Coordination of medical appointments
Our experienced senior care providers at Pine Run Lakeview also offer amenities that make your loved one’s life enriching and stress-free, including:
- Scheduled social transportation
- Trips to local attractions
- Three chef-prepared meals daily
- Dedicated Life Enrichment staff and activities
Many seniors find that a retirement community that offers a continuum of care is the best fit for them. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) provide different levels of care – independent living, personal care, and skilled nursing – based on an individual’s needs. Residents may enter at one level of care (independent living, for example) and if their needs change and they require more care, they are able to move throughout the varying levels of care within the community.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities, such as Pine Run Retirement Community, offers great peace of mind for seniors and their families. It means that seniors do not need to undergo the stress and strain of having to move to an unfamiliar home with unfamiliar faces just because they need additional care.
How Do I Choose a Senior Living Facility?
Choosing a personal care home is a highly personal decision and requires significant thought and care. People often may judge personal care homes by their exterior facades and interior glamour, but it is important to look below the surface. While ambience is nice, the most important factor in evaluating a personal care home is the experience of the caregivers and the services provided by the home itself.
As you go about investigating your options, gather information about the different kinds of residences available and evaluate them based on:
- Location: How close is the home to family, friends, shopping, public transportation, church, library, and other community resources.
- Size: Large and small homes offer various advantages depending on the lifestyle and preferences of the older adult.
- Compliance: Is the home licensed by the state of Pennsylvania and does it meet or exceed the state regulations?
- Services: What types of supports does the personal care home offer? Is a nurse on-site around the clock? If not, what happens if your loved one has a medical emergency?
- Room choice: What type of room layouts are available and what are the pros and cons of each?
- Amenities: Does the personal care home offer enriching activities that keep your loved one engaged with life?
- Cost: Consider the monthly fees and service charges.
Once you have compiled this relevant information, use it to compare your options and narrow your choices down to the top three or so. The next step is to schedule a tour, so you and your loved one can see for yourself how the home runs, how the staff interacts with the residents, what activities the residents participate in, and the quality of the accommodations and the meals.
Evaluating all of these various attributes will help you make an informed decision about the kind of personal care home for seniors that will offer the highest quality of life for you or your loved one.