Key Differences Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes

The process of seeking out long-term care options for an elderly loved one can be daunting. Most people are not exposed to the differences between assisted living and skilled nursing care until the process of choosing long-term housing arises. Below, our attorneys have outlined the basic differences in assisted living and nursing home care to help with this process. 

Assisted living and skilled nursing are types of long-term care options, but they differ in the level of care provided depending on the specific needs of the resident. Assisted living and skilled nursing are governed by different Colorado regulations which can be accessed here: . The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also issue regulations governing long-term care.

Assisted living is designed for individuals who have an impaired capacity to live independently. The residents in assisted living generally need assistance with daily activities yet retain some independence. Residents in assisted living typically require help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, medication management, meal preparation, and cleaning. Because the residents who live in assisted living have an impaired capacity to live independently and need around the clock assistance, the facility is required by law to provide 24-hour supervision and protective oversight of residents. The staff members must be available 24/7 to provide assistance and support to residents. If a medical need arises in assisted living, the caretakers must contact outside medical providers and facilitate medical attention. In assisted living, medical care is provided through external healthcare providers or agencies. Residents may have access to on-call caretakers, but there is no 24-hour medical supervision or medical treatment offered on-site in contrast to nursing homes. 

In Colorado, the assisted living residences must provide a care plan which is a written description of the functional capabilities, need for personal assistance, and services to be provided by the facility in order to meet the resident’s needs. Assisted living offers apartments to residents and common areas for socialization, dining, and recreational activities. 

Skilled nursing, on the other hand, offers 24-hour medical care onsite. Nursing homes are licensed with the state to provide supportive, restorative and preventatives services to persons who, due to physical and/or mental disability, require continuous or regular inpatient nursing care. 

Skilled nursing facilities are more akin to hospital settings with shared and private rooms and a higher level of medical equipment and monitoring devices to cater the medical needs of the resident. They generally have higher costs compared to assisted living communities due to the increased level of medical care and staffing required. The specific costs can vary depending on factors such as location, services provided, available insurance coverage, and the level of care needed. 

If you or a loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home or assisted living residence, call Hailey | Hart PLLC for a free consultation. 

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