Nursing Care in Assisted Living Communities
When your parent moves to an assisted living community, it is typically because you are concerned that they cannot live on their own due to illness, frailty, or forgetfulness. Perhaps you no longer feel that they are safe. At an assisted living community, you are moving them to a home that is not only a comfortable place to live but also includes care to keep them healthy. Care is an essential component in your decision making.
Who is caring for your parent in an assisted living community?
Our Aegis Living assisted living and memory care communities are based on a social model, where residents live communally, dine together, enjoy planned activities, and comradery is encouraged. In addition to the luxury amenities and enriching activities that our residents enjoy, they are supported by our compassionate 24/7 care staff. The caregivers assist with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) such as dressing, toileting, eating, transferring, or bathing. Most care staff are not RN’s but are trained to fulfill the daily needs of the residents and administer medications.
Each of our communities employs an on-staff nurse who oversees the customized care plans of each resident and assists with changes in care. Every shift is covered by a nurse, whether they are in the community or on-call, including overnight. They use their medical expertise to communicate with a resident’s primary care physician about any concerns or changes in the resident’s health. Nurses are also the point person for the family to discuss health concerns. And the nurse sets the standard for healthcare within each community and is responsible for maintaining our high level of care.
Our goal is to keep your loved one comfortable always. And our residents’ continued good health is our utmost concern. If your parent’s needs progress with illness, frailty, or age, our staff can adapt and change their health care plan to support these changes. Most of our residents can remain in their home at Aegis surrounded by the familiar faces of friends, staff, and nearby family while receiving flexible levels of service. But if a resident has a condition that Aegis cannot care for, they may need to move to a skilled nursing facility or hospital with on-site physicians, or at least stay until their condition improves.
For our nurses, being employed at an assisted living community is much different than working at a clinic or in a hospital. Our staff forms close bonds with the residents and their families while caring for them in their Aegis home. Many of our nurses compare caring for our residents to caring for a member of their family.
“My favorite part of my job is that I get to be part of the story for my residents, says Alexandra Lyle, BSN. “I get to live day in and day out in their home,”
Our nurses are also hands-on throughout the day and interact with our residents during meals, exercise, and activities. They get to know our residents intimately. An important part of their job is to teach and coach our residents for better health. Our nurses help educate residents to adapt to their changing health needs. This kind of care cannot be compared to meeting a patient for a 15-minute checkup or only addressing health issues when they arise at a brief doctor’s appointment. Our nurses help to proactively care for residents’ changing health needs and foresee issues in their condition.
The Different Levels of Care
If you are actively looking for a care facility for your parent, you may be encountering housing terms that you are not familiar with, or you may not clearly understand how these types of senior housing options differ. To give you an understanding, here is a brief description of some common senior housing options and the type of care that they typically provide.
Independent or Retirement Homes. A retirement community does not usually offer any care services. The model is to provide a low-maintenance lifestyle in a community with their peers, typically at 55 and older. The focus of this option is concentrated on the amenities, such as a golf course, pool, tennis courts, restaurant, or clubhouse. This option is best suited for fit and active individuals, perhaps looking to downsize or retire.
CCRC. A CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) is a long-term care option that offers a continuum of care with independent living units, assisted living units, and in some instances, skilled nursing units on one campus. Residents will enter into a contractual agreement for care, services, and housing with a significant financial commitment upfront. The goal of a CCRC is a home where a resident can age in place. This is typically a costlier option because of all the services offered in one place.
Assisted Living and Memory Care. An assisted living community, typically, has a nurse on staff and 24/7 care managers who are specially trained to handle care with dignity for elderly residents who need assistance with medication or ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). Besides providing care and support, your parent will have a calendar of activities to participate in and amenities to enjoy. And a memory care community offers services to support those with memory loss or dementia. If your parent can no longer live on their own and needs daily assistance, this is a good fit.
Skilled Nursing Home. Next to a hospital, a skilled nursing facility will offer the highest level of care. A nursing home is best suited for your parent if they need a higher level of medical care or supervision. It’s a good choice if they are suffering from a complex medical condition or require around-the-clock medical care from licensed nurses. Also, certain medical conditions cannot legally be addressed in an assisted living setting; for those with such medical conditions, a nursing home is a more appropriate fit.
To learn more about which senior housing options offer specific levels of nursing care we recommend you tour a variety of communities and including your nearby Aegis Living.