When beginning the process of comparing senior care facilities, the services offered and how they are explained can be confusing.

Here are some definitions to help you understand what different places offer.

We also suggest you review and use this document from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which is designed to help you select the place that’s right for your needs. 

Types of residence options available

There are many different types of residence options – from completely independent senior retirement communities to homes where residents are constantly monitored with regular nursing care, and everything in between. Some of the different options include:

  • Senior Retirement Community
    This is typically an apartment complex providing apartments to seniors. Amenities vary widely, with some simply providing apartments and others offering luxury features like pools, regular activities, tennis courts, etc. These types of communities are best for those who are very active, and who do not have any ongoing health concerns.
  • Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC)
    This is the next step in care up from a senior retirement community. It is a type of assisted living, where assistance is minimal. Residents have their own, private apartment and are typically fairly independent. Residents may receive up to 28 hours of assistance each week, including things like housekeeping, transportation, assistance with dressing or bathing, and medication administration. These types of communities are best for those who want to maintain their independence, but may have some health concerns that do not require regular nursing care.
  • Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF)
    When people speak of assisted living, this is typically the type of facility to which they are referring. There is a wide variety of types of CBRF – from those with private apartments to places with more open settings. Residents who live here can receive up to three hours per week of nursing care. This type of community is best for those who may have more difficulties with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, etc. Residents in these communities may be very independent and simply need some assistance with physical tasks each day, or they may be in greater need of monitoring and care – up to an intermediate level of nursing care. Most CBRFs feature regular activities, and may have onsite amenities like a salon and transportation.
  • Memory or Dementia Care
    Memory or Dementia Care is typically provided within a CBRF. These units are typically secured, as residents with dementia may be prone to wander. Apartments may be semi-private or private. Assisted Living with Memory Care typically offers activities to residents specifically geared to help with memory. Facilities may include certified dementia care specialists who oversee the care to ensure that residents are getting the best care possible. Knowing the qualifications of those working within a memory care unit – including both those in direct care capacity (CNAs, RN/LPNs, etc) as well as those who provide non-nursing services (housekeeping, dietary, maintenance) can help you decide which facility will provide the most empathetic care.
  • Rehabilitation or Short-term Skilled Nursing Care
    Rehabilitation or Short-term Skilled Nursing facilities are for people who do not need the amount of care provided in a hospital, but may need more care than they could receive at home. Rehabilitation is often provided for those who have had an illness or injury, or who have had a surgery like joint replacement. Rehabilitation may include physical, occupational, or speech therapy. This type of care may require that the patient stay onsite, or that they do outpatient rehabilitation, coming into the facility daily to receive the care they need. Most rehabilitation is completed in less than a month’s time. These facilities are inspected and regulated by the state Department of Health Services.
  • Long-term Skilled Nursing Care
    Also known as a nursing home, a Long-term Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a place where people who need daily custodial and/or nursing care can live. Staff not only provide nursing services, but assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, hygiene, eating, maneuvering in and out of bed and/or walking, and incontinence. SNFs are inspected and regulated by the state Department of Health Services.

If you have any questions about what kind of care you or your loved one may need, please do not hesitate to contact us