As a result of ever-increasing life expectancy, the demand for a wide range of long-term eldercare services is on the rise. Among those services, one type of care that has become very popular is known as assisted living.
Within the general category of assisted living one type of facility, known as residential care homes, is quite popular. Residential care homes are quite similar to other types of assisted living facilities with one small exception -- they generally provide care for very small number of residents -- typically four to seven individuals.
The goal of residential care homes is to allow residents to retain a sense of self-sufficiency and independence in a home-like environment while offering supervision, personalized care and assistance. These facilities provide a mix of independence and security, companionship and privacy, and both social and physical well-being.
Typical Activities and Services Offered
Residential care homes typically offer the following types of activities and services.
- Round-the-clock supervision (24/7)
- Personal care services (help with toileting, bathing, dressing, etc.)
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a group dining room
- Assistance with medications
- Social services
- Spiritual and recreational activities
- Wellness and exercise programs
- Linen and laundry service
Residential care homes offer assistance with activities of daily living, coordinate services provided by outside health care professionals, and monitor the residents' activities for health and safety matters. The staff usually provides assistance in arranging for outside medical and dental care of the residents' choosing.
Eldercare facilities are defined by the type and range of services they provide, not by the number of rooms or residents they serve. It's very important for seniors and their families to fully understand what services the home offers, in addition to any limitations of service and the cost of those services.
Residents' Rights and Responsibilities
Residents in an assisted learning environment have the right to choose the setting in which they would like to have services and care provided. They should expect to:
- Be treated with respect and dignity
- Maintain individual privacy
- Be kept informed of available services and any limitations on the services
- Manage their own personal funds
- Make use of their own personal possessions
- Freely interact with others inside the facility as well as in the community
- Have freedom of religion
- Have the right to express or file grievances
The home should post a list of residents' rights in a readily accessible location and provide new residents with a copy of those rights. In addition, most facilities establish "house rules" concerning things such as their pets policy, bringing in personal furnishings, the use of alcohol and tobacco, etc. Additionally, any rules or guidelines for visitors should be provided.
Selecting a Residential Care Home
Once you have determined the types of services that are needed, you should obtain a list of residential care homes in your area. Doctors, social workers, members of the clergy, and friends may be familiar with local facilities and provide insight. In addition, information can be obtained at the that National Center for Assisted Living, the Area Office on Aging, or your state and local welfare and health departments.
You should try to narrow your choices to two or three facilities that meet your individual care needs, preferred location, and price range by paying them a visit. Tour the facilities and talk with the administrators and staff. Try to visit during mealtime or arrange to join the residents at the dining table. This should give you a fairly accurate sense of what life would be like in the residence.