As a resident in assisted living, the adjustment to congregate living during the first few days or even over a couple of months can prompt an adjustment in the expectation about the intensity of care. You and your parent may have questions regarding how and when the care is provided. You may have a different perception than the assisted living community about the services available. Knowing what to reasonably expect about the care can improve the quality of life in assisted living.
Since assisted living regulations vary by state, and the operations of each community vary depending on the type and size of the facility, we’ll narrow our focus, somewhat, to Virginia assisted living regulations and the operations of the communities of Retirement Unlimited, Inc. However, the perceptions are universal and the expectations can serve as a guideline for you as you navigate through assisted living.
Intensity of Care – The Expectation
Living independently in one’s home or having in-home assistance by a personal caregiver is very different than living in an assisted living community. At home, you make choices based on your own preferences with little or no input from someone else. An in-home aide can provide personal care and focus only on your needs. You or someone else may have prepared meals and snacks, spent time with you playing cards or reading, or just being there to make sure you were safe. You may have spent unlimited time bathing, grooming, styling your hair and dressing. You may have had someone to run errands to the dry cleaners, grocery store or pharmacy. You or a family member may have cared for a pet, cleaned daily, completed minor repairs and such. The care provided in an assisted living community cannot compare with independent living.
Intensity of Care – The Reality
The Virginia state regulations require an assisted living community to complete a face-to-face assessment with a prospective resident prior to admission and throughout one’s tenure to determine the care needed. In addition, the state expects that the community will provide written documentation about how that care is provided, by whom, and the cost of those services. In Retirement Unlimited, Inc. communities this information is provided in our lease agreement, individual service plan and other documents.
Due to the number of residents cared for in assisted living communities, the differing levels of care required by each resident, and the numbers of staff available, no facility can provide close, personal supervision or care to any single resident on a regular basis. The nature and intent of “assisted” living means that the resident is an active participant in his or her own care. Situations do arise, however, where a resident may require or request additional or more intensive services. In these cases, communities may provide the services for an additional fee. However, if any resident requires continuous or one-on-one supervision on a regular basis, this type of service is, by definition, provided in a nursing home, not in an assisted living community.