Residential Care

Senior Care: Residential Care Facilities

Many people confuse residential care facilities with other types of care facilities. However, residential care facilities are unique among the long-term care options available. A residential care facility is ideal for those that need care, independence, and a safe place in a residential setting.

What is a Residential Care Facility?

Residential care facilities offer a more home-like atmosphere for seniors or people with disabilities. Because of this, they often fall under the title of “care homes,” or “board and care homes.” These homes are usually located in residential neighborhoods, rather than specific types of facilities.

Generally, residential care facilities have a greater focus on independent living. To that end, these homes may offer meals, and some assistance with daily living. They do not usually have medical professionals onsite. Because of the focus on independence, these facilities often are far cheaper than other types of long-term care and nursing home options.

What is Provided?

As stated, residential care facilities are mostly non-medical facilities. They do not deal heavily with medical care. They will certainly keep necessary prescription meds. Usually, they provide one or more caretakers. These personal caretakers provide:

*housekeeping and laundry

*general supervision

*assistance with personal care

*assistance with administering prescription medications

*chaperoning for outings

*assistance with mobility

There are some residential care facilities that specialize in one type of care or another. So it is best to thoroughly investigate and make sure they provide the proper care for specific needs.

Residential Care Facility vs. Assisted Living

A residential care facility differs in many ways from an assisted living facility. What may confuse some people is the fact that these two terms have become synonymous in some places. This happens mainly because residential care often falls under the term “residential assisted living.”

The differences are well worth noting for those looking for a specific type of care.

Residential Care has a smaller setting, less residents, and less staff

Assisted Living has larger facilities, far more residents, and far more staff

Residential Care typically includes smaller, local activities

Assisted Living typically has larger, group-based activities

Residential Care offers more personalized care

Assisted Living offers larger, scheduled care and rotating staff

Both types of facilities offer care, support, trained staff, and everything else expected of non-medical long-term care. The differences are mainly in scale. Residential care offers a warm, home-like approach. Assisted living communities have a larger, social-heavy scale.

Requirements for a Residential Care Facility

As there are residential care facilities of all types, the requirements for living in one can vary. For example, depending on the care home’s licensing and staff, it is possible to establish residency for very specific types of care. For example, there are residential care facilities for all of the following:


Seniors with disabilities

Seniors with mental illness

Seniors of a  specific age group

There are many more specialized areas of residential care as well. In all cases, the admission requirements can vary greatly by state. Each residential care facility will have its own Admission Agreement that outlines all requirements and expectations.

For example, age restrictions will depend on the facility. If the facility houses residents over 60, then it will (and is often legally obligated to) take in others around the same age range. It usually requires a special exception to admit someone outside of the general age range of the house.

Another example is the physical requirements for admission. Generally, if the resident can leave the house with little to no assistance in case of an emergency, then they are fit enough for the home.

This also applies for residents with mental impairments. They will need a home uniquely suited to dealing with mental illness, or specific types of mental illness. Because of that, those with a mental impairment will not meet the requirements of some homes that do not have the licensing or trained staff for dealing with mental impairment.

The Layout of Residential Care Facilities Affect Care

The layout of a residential care home is important. It dictates how a resident can move throughout the facility. It also dictates where a resident may need more assistance or where their independence can become limited. Since these facilities are usually residential homes, they often follow a typical layout with some changes to facilitate care. Journeying from a room, to a kitchen, to a bathroom should pose no problems. Staff is always on hand to help when and where they are needed. To that end, most residential care homes include the following:

*Wider doorways and hallways for walkers and wheelchairs

*Handrails are common place

*Uncomplicated floor plans

*Elevators, in most cases

*Non-slip flooring

*Emergency call systems

The Best Time to Start Considering a Residential Care Facility

The best time to consider residential care is when it becomes obvious that long-term care at home will not be, or is no longer, possible. As people age, they will require more, and more assistance with their daily living. However, people also want to hold onto as much independence as they can.  It is important to keep in mind that depending on your financial circumstances and the demand of the facility, there may be a waiting list.

Mental Illness and Physical Impairments

In cases of mental illness, or physical impairment, it is important to evaluate the long-term needs before making a decision. While residential care facilities can work well with those that need special care, it is possible that another type of facility will become necessary. Start looking into long-term care early to see what kind of facility has everything needed for specialized care.

Caregiver Burnout

Another time to consider residential care is when caregivers begin to experience burnout. It happens, and there is no ill will involved, but caregiving is not easy. This is especially true for those that have to give care while also working and taking care of the rest of the family. In such cases, it is a good idea to start looking into residential care as soon as you being to feel burdened.  Do not wait to see how it goes.  Part of caregiving is to also be aware of your own physical well being.