Assisted living facilities are an alternative to traditional elderly care like care homes or homecare.
For older people with fewer care needs they offer a great opportunity to live and age well in a community setting.
This article will cover everything you need to know about assisted living in retirement and older age.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover in this article:
- Assisted living is an alternative to traditional elderly care that takes place in care homes and in your own home.
- It is suitable for older people who want to maintain some independence by living alone, but could benefit from access to care support.
- Residents live in a self-contained property with access to care workers and community events and facilities.
- Assisted living may be marketed as sheltered housing with extra-care or a retirement village.
What is assisted living?
Assisted living or extra-care housing is an alternative to traditional care where you live independently within a housing facility or complex.
Each resident, or couple, has their own self-contained flat, bungalow or house, yet benefits from living in a community setting.
The community is secure and safe, with access limited to staff and residents, which is great if you’re worried about security.
Plus, trained care staff are on hand 24/7 to support any care needs that you have.
How is assisted living different from a care home?
Assisted living has a number of similarities to living in a care home.
The difference is that you have your own self-contained property, which includes kitchen and utility facilities and maybe even outdoor space.
Whereas a care home suite consists of a bedroom and ensuite bathroom only.
Care home costs are also different from those associated with assisted living, so make sure you understand the charges before you commit.
How is it managed?
Living in an assisted living facility or retirement complex provides care, community and security for older people.
This can provide peace of mind to elderly residents or their families – especially if they are living alone.
They have access to care staff to support them with care needs, as well as managers who oversee the entire complex.
Some facilities may also have wardens or dedicated staff for extra security.
What’s included with assisted living care?
In an assisted living facility you have access to the same home care assistance as you would while receiving care in another setting.
The difference is that you have your own space plus a community of peers – it’s the best of both worlds!
This could include washing and dressing or help with medication and exercise.
Alternatively, carers are on hand to help you get groceries and do household chores like cleaning and laundry.
Even though you have your own flat, you’ll be living within a community of other people of similar age.
This fosters chances to meet people, make friends and build an amazing support network for your later years.
Many facilities have communal areas such as lounges and gardens where residents can meet each other and relax.
This could also include access to events such as talks or exercise and skills classes for residents to enjoy.
At every facility there will be a support and management team who are responsible for the happiness of residents.
They make sure the facility and flats have everything they need and keep up to date with safety measures and care standards.
This is essential as assisted living facilities are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
If you’re thinking, ‘what is the CQC?’, you can find more info on our care advice pages.
At an assisted living facility you will have access to…
- A self-contained apartment
- 24/7 support available
- Management team to support residents
Plus, some facilities provide:
- Cooked meals
- Communal spaces for socialising
- A busy events calendar for residents to join when desired
Who is assisted living suitable for?
Assisted living is generally suitable for anyone over 60 who requires support with care needs.
Though they may have care needs, they wish to live independently knowing help is on hand if it’s needed.
Assisted living is not however suitable for people with complex or nursing care needs or those younger than average retirement age.
How much does assisted living cost?
The cost of care in an assisted living facility is dependent on a number of factors.
Due to each service provider having different specifications, it’s not possible to say how much assisted living costs.
But generally speaking, fewer services are provided than in residential care homes, which makes them a cheaper alternative.
However, there are service changes and other costs that must be taken into account.
You will have to pay for the care and assistance you require and use as part of your package.
This is dependent on what care needs you have, how the team supports you and any extra services you use.
Essentially, the more care needs you have, the more expensive it is.
The service charge you pay for assisted living covers payments for management and upkeep of the service.
This ensures that the management team is able to provide you with the facilities, equipment and care staff that you need.
As you have your own apartment within the facility, you will have to pay utility bills such as water, electricity and council tax.
Part of these charges may relate to water and fuel used in communal areas such as corridors and lounges.
As with any administrative process, there may be fees associated with moving into or out of your chosen assisted living home.
It is essential that you understand the fees that you or your loved ones will have to pay before making a commitment.
Paying for assisted living
Individuals can choose to rent or buy a property in an assisted living complex or retirement village.
Depending on the size of the site, you may be able to choose between a flat, bungalow or small house – though prices will vary.
Other options to lease or have shared ownership can make assisted living cheaper than a care home.
If you choose to rent your retirement property, you will be liable to pay monthly rent and bills.
Plus any other charges stipulated in your rental agreement.
You also have to pay fees for care and other services that you use on top of this.
Buying a retirement property means that you have to pay maintenance costs, mortgage payments and any other associated fees.
This is separate from your utilities, care costs and any other services that you use.
What should you consider before moving to an assisted living facility?
Individuals with fewer care needs, or those which won’t increase steadily, are more suitable candidates for assisted living.
This is because care needs are general rather than specific to a condition such as Alzheimer’s.
Even if your care needs are few, assisted living may be good for people wanting more social interaction.
Because of the social nature of assisted living, people are around at all times and there’s always a friendly face to be found.
You can even live in an assisted living facility as a couple.
Knowing what you have to pay for care is essential before you make any commitment.
You may be able to get help from local authority funding for care as a result of your needs assessment.
But the bottom line is that you need enough money to live comfortably and get the care you require.
Downsizing is often a motivation for older people moving into an assisted living facility or retirement village.
Instead of navigating stairs, or dealing with poorly insulated properties, retirement homes are often modern and reliable.
This can help provide peace of mind that you or your loved one won’t have any nasty surprises at home.
Would your loved one benefit from staying in the city or town that they love or moving to be closer to family?
Remember that assisted living somewhat removes the need for loved ones to be close by to provide care support.
But being on hand for visits and moral support is never a bad thing.
All assisted living facilities are regulated by the CQC and provided with a rating.
Look out for providers that have an ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’ rating, and read reviews before you make a commitment.
This can give you an idea of customer satisfaction and what kind of support your loved one will receive.
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