Part 2: Differences in Care Explained
The thought of needing long-term care at some point can be a scary reality. Before I started practicing as an elder law attorney, the words “long-term care” in my mind always meant a nursing home. To me, an assisted living facility and a nursing home were one and the same. I failed to notice the difference between the two. In our practice, I am reminded that not everyone realizes that an assisted living facility is not the same thing as a nursing home.
As I often meet with families to discuss individuals on the brink of needing long-term care, part of my job as an elder law attorney is to educate families that in the care of a loved one, there are different options or levels of long-term care. As discussed in Part 1 of our blog series, long-term care is defined as the type of extended care required by an individual when dependent upon others for assistance with daily medical care and/or personal needs. We explained that long-term care encompasses a combination of medical and nonmedical services, which can be provided in different settings. Long-term care is not limited to the nursing home facility setting. Depending on the needs of the individual, long-term care can also be provided in the home, an adult day center or an assisted living facility.
This may come as a surprise, but an assisted living facility and nursing home are not the same. Each offers something different. A key difference lies in what we call “level of care.” Level of care is defined as the intensity of care provided to an individual by the provider or health care facility. It is a primary factor used in determining appropriate long-term placement. This is important because the level of care provided to an individual in the nursing home setting will differ significantly from the level of care provided in an assisted living facility.
What Level of Care Is Provided at Assisted Living Facilities?
We revealed the definition of an assisted living facility is a residential facility that offers limited care and assistance with activities of daily living. An assisted living facility will not provide hands-on medical care. Rather, the focus of an assisted living facility is to promote health and safety by aiding individuals with activities of daily living.
The care typically provided in assisted living is geared toward the promotion of independence and can include assistance with eating, dressing, transferring, toileting, and bathing. There may be different levels within an assisted living facility dependent upon how many activities of daily living an individual may require assistance with. Moreover, a memory diagnosis may require memory care, which is available at many assisted living facilities that hold an ECC license.
ECC, which stands for Extended Congregate Care, is a specialty license held by some assisted living facilities that enable them to provide a higher level of care, which may come close to nursing care. The resident of an assisted living facility that holds an ECC license will likely have a high level of impairment, thus requiring a higher level of care, but is not yet at the level of requiring skilled nursing. Even with an ECC license, there is a limit as to the level of care that can be provided at an assisted living facility.
What Level of Care Is Provided at Nursing Homes?
While assisted living facilities aim to promote independence through the provision of services geared toward activities of daily living, nursing homes will provide a much higher level of care known as “skilled care”. A nursing home is a residential facility that provides around the clock care in the form of medical monitoring, personal care, skilled nursing, and therapy.
Skilled nursing care will typically entail a hands-on approach to an individual’s care and will include monitoring of medication, provision of wound care, injections, and feeding. Therapies such as occupational, speech, physical, and respiratory are also a component of skilled care. Individuals requiring minimal assistance with activities of daily living would not be appropriate for a nursing home as they are not yet at the level of requiring skilled care.
Comprehensive Elder Law Services
At first glance, it can be difficult to distinguish an assisted living facility from a nursing home because each provides some form of long-term care. A look into the type or level of care provided in each will reveal they are not one and the same. Long-term care will someday be a reality for most of us. This may seem scary, but there is no need to walk this journey alone. If you have questions about long-term care, please contact our office to discuss your situation with a lawyer at Hill Law Group, PA.
To request your case consultation with a dedicated elder law attorney, give us a call today at (727) 240-2350. We can review the details of your case and explain all of your options so you feel confident that your best interests are represented.