Choosing an Assisted Living, Personal Care or Nursing Home

Placing a loved one in a personal care, assisted living or nursing home can be an overwhelming and emotional undertaking for both the individual being placed and the family and friends helping in the process.

A nursing home is a residence that provides the following:
• 24-hour supervision
• meals
• skilled nursing
• medical services for those in need of assistance

If a person does not need supervision 24 hours a day, a personal care home may be more suitable. A personal care home provides lodging, food and personal care support services (such as bathing and dressing) for those in need of care. Finding a personal care/assisted living home or nursing home can be a difficult and confusing experience, so plan ahead: talk with family, friends, social workers, doctors and a local ombudsman. Doing thorough research will satisfy you and your loved one that the facility you have chosen will provide the best care and comfort possible for your loved one.

How Much Will It Cost for an Assisted Living, Personal Care Home?
The average cost of a personal care home ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 a month. This cost can be funded in several ways: private pay, with costs covered by the individual receiving the care; through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) where one can apply for Personal Care Supplement; or through a “third party agreement” where an outside source (such as family or friends) helps to pay for services.

How Much Will It Cost for Nursing Home Care?
The average monthly cost of nursing home care in Pennsylvania is about $8,000. Medicaid pays the cost of nursing home care for people with limited income. Long-term care insurance, Medicare and private pay are ways in which to pay for care, so assess your financial situation.

First Steps for Prospective Residents
• Ask your doctor for a complete medical evaluation to decide if a nursing home or personal care home placement is right at this time.
• If financial assistance is needed, contact the Beaver County Office on Aging at (724) 847-2262 (local) or
(888) 548-2262 (long distance) to request an assessment for level of care.
• Consider that the process of locating a residence and filling out the necessary paperwork takes time, and many facilities have waiting lists.
• Ask family and friends for their input.
• Speak to an ombudsman who has knowledge about the process.
• Consider location: it’s best to find a home in proximity to family and friends to make visiting easier.

Following are some considerations to assist you in organizing your thoughts and questions about each location. Feel free to ask any additional questions pertaining to your personal needs when visiting each facility.
• Comfort — Is the home clean, well lit, odor free and at a comfortable temperature?
• Safety — Does the facility have an emergency plan for patients in case of fire, flood or other disasters?
• Safety — Is it a safe environment with fire extinguishers, open pathways and smoke detectors?
• Rooms — Are personal items displayed for each resident? Are call buttons within easy reach? How many residents are in a room?
• Bathrooms — Are bathrooms clean and equipped with handrails and a call button that is easy to reach?
• Dining — Observe mealtimes. If meals for the month are not posted, request a copy. Does the food look and smell appetizing? Does the staff spend time feeding residents and not rushing them through their meals?
• Social activities — Is an activities calendar posted? If not, request a copy. Are there a variety of activities to meet the needs of your loved one?
• Staff — Is there enough staff to meet the residents’ needs? Are they visible and willing to talk with you? Does the staff get residents up and dressed each day? Is there a social worker and dietician on staff?
• Residents and family members — Ask residents and their family members what they like most and least about the facility. Do residents appear to be content?
• Consult an ombudsman — They advocate for residents of nursing and personal care homes, or consumers of any long-term care service.
• Documents — Request the state facility inspection report.