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The Atrium: Important Considerations When Exploring Personal Care or Nursing Home Care Options

A common question among seniors and families looking into care options for themselves or their loved ones is whether to consider skilled nursing or personal care. Knowing the difference is important in making that decision.

An honest personal assessment of needs is the first step. Both settings offer:

· Private or semi-private accommodations

· Assistance with day-to-day activities, such as medication management, personal hygiene, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom, etc.,

· 24-hour supervision, monitoring and care support,

· Nutritious meals in a social setting,

· Housekeeping and laundry services;

· Activities and social programs;

· Memory care programming;

· A care team that become friends and family, and

· Both settings are licensed and routinely inspected.

While there are many similarities in the care and services provided in each of these settings, there are some rather distinct differences.

· Amount of Daily Help Needed - Nursing homes provide a higher staffing ratio and can care for individuals who need more assistance in their day–to–day activities. Typically, those who need the assistance of more than one staff member to safely perform day-to-day activities or who use equipment in order to transfer between surfaces, such as mechanical lifts, are often limited to nursing home care. Each personal care home determines how much care they can safely provide; however, nursing homes provide an average of 3 hours of nursing care to each resident on a daily basis while personal care homes typically provide between 1 and 2 hours of care to each resident daily.

· Medical Care - Nursing homes provide most of an individual’s medical care at the facility. A physician is required to evaluate nursing home residents on a routine basis and be available for consultation on changes of condition on a 24/7 basis. Personal care homes typically assist individuals with arranging for medical care that is often provided at the physician office. Staff are available at all times in the case of an emergency, but if medical evaluation or care is needed, the individual will likely be transferred to the local Emergency Department for medical care.

· Skilled Nursing Care - Nursing homes can provide skilled nursing care and certain medical treatments, such as wound care, intravenous care, therapy services, etc., while all of the care provided at a personal care home is less medically based, such as assistance with day-to-day activities. Personal care home residents who need skilled care can sometimes receive those services while living at the personal care home through a Medicare–certified home health provider.

· Payment Options - Medicare, Medicaid, and other third party insurances will often pay for all or a portion of nursing home care based on an individual’s qualifying condition(s). Payment options for personal care homes are limited to private pay resources and Veterans benefits. War era veterans and their spouses may qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits, which will help cover the cost of care in a personal care home but not fully fund it.

· Regulatory Standards - While both settings are licensed and routinely inspected, their licensing agencies and minimum standards are different. Nursing homes are under a more stringent set of regulatory requirements and are inspected by the PA Department of Health. Personal care homes regulatory requirements are less stringent and allow individuals more autonomy in their care and lifestyle than a nursing home.

· Finances - Nursing Home care is more expensive than personal care because of the higher staffing ratios, increased regulatory requirements, and higher care needs of the residents living there. Individuals who do not have the financial means to pay for care through their own private resources may qualify for Medical Assistance, which only pays for nursing home care. There are often limited options for personal care for individuals who do not have the financial resources to pay the monthly costs. Nursing home care averages $9,000 per month while personal care typically ranges between $4,000-6,000 per month.

In short:

ü A personal care facility provides assistance with day-to-day activities, offers more autonomy with daily decision-making, and is more cost-effective.

ü A skilled nursing facility provides higher levels of assistance with day-to-day activities, can provide skilled services on a 24/7 basis for individuals with medically necessary needs, and is covered by third party insurances.

The Atrium, a Choice Community, is conveniently located in historic downtown Johnstown. We offer a wide range of personalized Personal Care services accompanied by a warm, comfortable atmosphere.

Everything we do is designed to make a difference in how our residents feel. Their satisfaction is important to us. It is our goal to provide those we serve with the highest level of care, compassion and empathy. We are happy to serve our clients.

Schedule a visit to learn more about the difference that The Atrium can make in your life or in the life of your loved one.

To learn more, contact us at 814-535-5347.


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