comparing nursing homes
We found this useful comparison table @ [1]
There are number of options available for those in need of long-term care, however the services provided by living facility can vary greatly. To better understand the options available, it may help to review the services provided and see how they compare.

Let’s start by comparing nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Nursing Homes

The services provided by nursing homes can vary from facility to facility.  A nursing homes’ primary function is to provide for an individual what they cannot do themselves.  The services and support provided are intended to improve an individual’s quality of life by ensuring safety and providing continual health care.  Nursing homes provide care from registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN) or vocational nurses (LVN).  They are also present in assisting in everyday living.

The basic services provided by nursing homes are[2]:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry service, to include providing linens and towels
  • Basic hygiene items
  • Recreational activities
  • Therapy (physical, speech, or occupational) as required
  • Dental services
  • Mental health services
  • Special dietary needs as required.

Some nursing homes may also provide specialized care.  Although not all nursing homes will have specialized staff and equipment to deal with a specific medical condition, some common examples of specialized care are[3]:

  • Intravenous (IV) drug therapy
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Rehabilitative therapy
  • Pain management
  • Dialysis
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia patients

The purpose of a nursing home is to support seniors with moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment, debilitating medical conditions and/or those with medical conditions that require regular monitoring by providing the necessary medical care. Such conditions range from dementia, to severe heart disease, to those which require frequent assessment and tweaks in medication dosage. Even though nursing homes may offer some recreational activities, they are essentially medical facilities that provide the most extensive long-term care one can get outside of a hospital[4].

Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities resemble apartment-style living.  In this set up, residents occupy their own rooms that they furnish and decorate themselves. Some of these facilities offer units with efficiency kitchens at an additional cost; all have community dining and living/recreation spaces. Community activities are offered daily, and are very diverse.

Also, assisted living communities offer 24-hour staffing in the case of emergencies or residential help.  They are, not however, a medical care facility, and therefore do not usually have a medical professional working. The focus of an assisted living facility is primarily to provide a safe, wholesome and lively environment that prevents isolation and benefits cognitive function.

Members are generally expected to require minimal assistance with dressing, bathing, and medications.  They are also expected to have the ability, mentally and physically, to live in a semi-independent environment. For example, a resident should be able to safely get to and from the bathroom in the middle of the night, or be alert and aware enough to participate in a group activity with other residents.  Residents can however pay for additional personal care services if needed.

In comparison, nursing home residents sleep in hospital-style rooms that are often shared, with separate communal living and dining areas. Activities and excursions are generally not a part of nursing home life because the residents here are, more often than not, either physically or cognitively unable to participate.

This article was written with support of the nursing home abuse lawyers at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP.

Additional Resources

While both nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide the same basic function to their residents, there are some differences that distinguish them from each other.