Comparing Personal Care and Assisted Living

What’s the difference between Personal Care and Assisted Living?

For many years, the state of Pennsylvania made no distinction between the terms “personal care” and “assisted living.” But in January 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Long-Term Living began to license assisted living residences separately from personal care communities. Even though many consumers and some health care professionals aren’t aware of the differences between assisted living and personal care, each community has distinct advantages for seniors with particular health needs.

What is a Personal Care Community?

Personal Care Communities provide seniors with a way to enjoy an active lifestyle with the added benefit of professional assistance when needed.

Personal Care Communities are designed and licensed to provide:

  • Assistance with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring from chairs, beds and toilets
  • Medication management
  • Meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • On- and off-site group activities to promote resident interaction
  • General health maintenance and arrangement of health care services by other professionals (Green Hills Manor provides health services through certified nursing assistants)

Personal Care Communities are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. However, there is no third-party reimbursement and the cost of care is paid for by the resident. Many communities accept low-income residents who receive Supplemental Security Income.

When a resident’s care requires medical assistance beyond what the community is licensed to provide, the person is typically transferred to a skilled nursing home as a permanent resident.

What is an Assisted Living Community?

Assisted living bridges the care gap between Personal Care Communities and more expensive skilled nursing. An AARP study cited national research suggesting assisted living would cost between one half and two-thirds as much as skilled nursing care.

According to The Office of Long-Term Living, Assisted Living Communities differ from Personal Care Communities in three ways:

  • Level of Care: Assisted Living Communities provide more comprehensive care for a longer period of time for a resident whose needs become too great for a Personal Care Community.
  • Concept: The assisted living concept focuses on allowing a resident to “age in place” in a community-based setting for a longer period of time before having to move to skilled nursing when their needs increase.
  • Construction: Assisted Living Community construction requires larger residences, private bathrooms and room for kitchens.

The best time to consider your options is when you have concerns about the ability of a parent or loved one to live independently. If you wait until they’re being discharged from a hospital or rehab center, you’ll have fewer choices.

If you still have questions about what kind of community is best suited for the current and future needs of your loved one, fill out the Contact Us form on this page or call us at 484.577.3515.

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