Assisted living facilities (ALFs) are an important part of the healthcare landscape for millions of seniors in the United States. These facilities are staffed by dedicated, caring individuals who put the needs of residents first. ALFs are part of a broad industry sector known as long-term care, which includes skilled care facilities as well as nursing homes.
These facilities are typically protected by specialized risk management strategies that include assisted living facility coverage. Risk management is designed to minimize the risks experienced by managers, staff members, and residents alike. As with any aspect of the healthcare sector, there are many different options when it comes to the level of care available in ALFs and assisted living communities. These levels of senior care allow facilities and their staff members to tailor assistance for the unique needs of each resident. Here is a closer look at the levels of care in ALFs.
Why Differing Levels of Care in Assisted Living Facilities?
With so many assisted living facilities and assisted living communities for seniors to choose from, it is only natural that there are many options in terms of care. Part of the reason ALFs have so many options is due to the regulatory nature of long-term care facilities. ALFs must meet certain state guidelines, but they are not as heavily regulated as other facilities like nursing homes. This relaxation of regulation allows the ALF to have flexibility in terms of the services and care levels it provides.
Financial considerations also go into levels of senior care in ALFs. Typically, the monthly cost for residence in an ALF depends on the care the resident will require. By using distinct care levels, residents and their family members have a better understanding of the costs, and those costs will be consistent from month to month.
Differing Levels of Care
ALFs also use levels of senior care to provide necessary services for their residents, giving them the ability to hire the right staff members with the right skills to provide care and support for their residents. For example, an ALF that has more residents needing physical assistance with tasks like walking, bathing, or dressing may require more caregivers than a facility in which most residents can handle daily tasks on their own.
Ultimately, tailoring healthcare and support through distinct levels of care allows the resident to age in place longer. What this means is that levels of senior care reduce the need for transfers from one facility to another as residents’ health conditions decline over time.
Care Levels in ALFs
Assisted living facilities are as diverse as their residents. Many factors go into developing a slate of care levels for seniors, including needs, costs, and availability of qualified caregivers. In general, ALFs divide their services into three care levels:
Lower Levels of Care – this level is ideal for residents who do not need much in the way of daily assistance with tasks. Residents of lower care levels typically are able to walk by themselves or with an assistive device. These residents are also fairly independent in bathing and dressing. Staff members will monitor their medications and perform routine tests, but otherwise do not need to undertake complex monitoring and treatment of these residents.
Higher Levels of Care – as we age, many of us lose our ability to complete daily tasks without assistance. We may also require more complex and hands-on healthcare. Higher levels of senior care in ALFs take these factors into account, providing residents with the medical monitoring and support they need. Staff may assist with dressing, bathing, eating, and walking. They may also be called upon to provide pain management treatments and support.
Memory Care – according to the Alzheimer’s Association, nearly six million Americans are living with some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In the ALF setting, these residents may require highly-specialized care and support from trained medical professionals. Memory care centers or memory care units are becoming a common level of care in ALFs across the country. These units are designed to help residents maintain their dignity while giving them the support they need. Caregivers typically provide ongoing training in dementia care, allowing them to deliver compassionate support.
As a component of risk management, levels of senior care give facility managers the ability to streamline costs, manage overhead expenses, and provide the right levels of care for residents. These advantages supplement the protection of assisted living facility insurance and help keep residents, staff, and facility assets safe from risk exposures.
About the author
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.