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Skilled Nursing Facility, Nursing Home, Care Center: What Does it All Mean?

Skilled Nursing Facility, Nursing Home, Care Center: What Does it All Mean?

When you start to look into senior living, whether for yourself or your loved one, it can feel like there is a big learning curve, especially when it comes to terminology. Being familiar with terms commonly used in senior living is especially critical. This becomes more important as you move into the licensed levels of living, such as the Care Center, where care is provided for residents.


What is a Care Center?

A term some people may think of when it comes to senior living is “nursing home.” This is an outdated word and often conjures up a negative image. What we used to call the nursing home is actually the Care Center, sometimes referred to as Long Term Care or even a Skilled Nursing Facility.

When an older adult needs 24-hour care, a Care Center setting is where this is available. Care Centers are overseen by a medical director and, in addition to the 24-hour physical care provided, include enriching opportunities for socializing, learning, and more. These activities make sure Care Center residents can continue to live life to the fullest in a supportive and enriching community.

While the term nursing home makes many people think of a sterile, hospital-like setting they visited in the past, Care Centers are much different today! They are built with residents in mind. The surroundings are warm and comfortable, more homelike, with many amenities available. In addition, lifestyle enrichment programming to care for the spirit, mind, and body is available.


Where the Most Care is Available

The Care Center of a Life Plan Community is where the most care is available for a resident. A Life Plan Community provides the full continuum of care. Levels of living include Independent Living, where no care or medical oversight is needed; Assisted Living, where assistance with activities of daily living and medication administration is available; Memory Care, where programming is specialized for older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments; and the Care Center, where 24-hour nursing care is provided. Some communities also include Short Stay Rehabilitation, which is part of the Care Center.

Having all of these levels of living on one campus and as part of the same community is a benefit to moving to a Life Plan Community. The resident only has to make a big move once into the community. And more care is available if it is needed in the future. Plus, if a resident does move to another level of living, they are already familiar with the community and still have their friends within the community.

A Life Plan Community also means there is a plan in place for the future. The resident moving in makes that decision and relieves their family of having to make plans in the future if more care is needed.


What to Consider in a Care Center

Whether looking specifically for a Care Center or for senior living in general, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, check the community’s rating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS five-star rating is a good place to start when researching Care Centers.

Of course, make sure to visit the community as well. When visiting, things to look for include:

  • Friendliness of staff
  • Cleanliness of residents
  • Cleanliness of the community
  • Enrichment programming for residents
  • Outdoor spaces or spaces for entertaining when family and friends visit
  • Visitor guidelines


Moving to a Care Center

Any move is a big one, but there are ways to make the move to a Care Center easier. First, it’s important to get to know the staff and talk about how to best communicate with them, especially if family members are out of town. Also, personalize the room! Bring pillows, a quilt, and pictures and photos to decorate the living space.

Remember that this is a change and will take time to get used to. Community staff has been through these transitions before many times, so lean on them if you need help or have questions.

There are many things older adults can benefit from in a senior living community. A move to a Care Center or senior living community can be a positive experience with proper research and preparation.

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