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Personal Care vs. Skilled Care: How To Choose the Right Care for Your Loved One

If your parent or loved one needs a little or a lot of support in their daily lives, you may be sifting through piles of brochures and spending hours on internet research, wondering what kind of care to seek for them. On top of this, if you’re researching types of retirement communities, the terms used to describe care plans and residential options may be confusing. For example, what is the difference between personal care and skilled care?

Here’s what’s included with each of these care arrangements—and how you can get the best of all worlds by choosing a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), also known as a life plan community.

Things To Know About Personal Care/Assisted Living

What Is Personal Care?

Personal care (also known as assisted living) provides seniors with support for the tasks they want or need help with, while allowing them to otherwise remain as independent as possible. This not only offers seniors more freedom and comfort, but enhances the quality of their lives.

With personal care, your loved one will have access to an entire community of neighbors, friends, and professional support. They will also benefit from activities programming, spiritual enrichment, on-site appointments with select medical providers, staff who are specially trained to meet the needs of people with dementia, and transportation to nearby appointments.

The personal care/assisted living team includes registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medical technicians, and personal care aides who may be trained professionals or certified nursing assistants. A medical director and personal care administrator oversee personal care. Staff typically assist with the following:

  • Some activities of daily living (ADLs) such as walking longer distances, eating, using the bathroom, bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Housekeeping tasks like cleaning, doing laundry, and maintenance of the home and grounds
  • Serving three meals per day (plus snacks) prepared by a culinary team
  • Companionship, or someone to interact with through conversation, games, and other light activities
  • Mobility, such as walking to meals and activities
  • Medication management and administration
  • Specialized care, activities, social settings, and safe spaces for those with dementia
  • In a CCRC or life plan community, rehabilitative services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, are available in personal care

Is Personal Care Right For Your Loved One?

If your parent or loved one is having difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care may be right for them. Seniors who are experiencing a cognitive and/or physical decline also benefit from living in personal care because they receive the support they need to maintain their independence.

Seniors can receive personal care services in their own home through in-home care, or in a senior living community. If you’re unsure which arrangement is best for them, consider choosing a CCRC. In this model, seniors can transition easily and affordably from one level of care to another on the same campus for the rest of their lives—saving you from needing to make new arrangements on their behalf and giving them the security of staying in a community they trust.

Things To Know About Skilled Care

What Is Skilled Care?

Skilled care, also called skilled nursing care, provides the same services as personal care/assisted living plus additional staff support throughout the day and 24-hour medical care. People may choose skilled care as a long-term living solution or for short-term support while recovering from an illness, surgery, or injury.

Because of the added medical care and staff, skilled care costs more than personal care; however, long-term care insurance and Medicare may cover some of the cost.

With this level of care, registered nurses and a medical director oversee a team of medical professionals who provide care, including rehabilitation specialists like a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist.

These medically trained professionals provide the same services as personal care, plus:

  • Around-the-clock medical care and monitoring, including wound care and therapies
  • Assistance with most activities of daily living (ADLs), including assistance with eating
  • Help transferring from and to various standing, seated, and laying positions
  • Transporting residents via wheelchair or other assistive devices on a daily basis

Is Skilled Care Right For Your Loved One?

Skilled nursing care offers specialized medical services based on a person’s individual needs. This may be an appropriate care option for seniors who need to recover from a stroke, require care for Parkinson’s disease, are injured, have extensive mobility challenges, or simply need loving assistance with most activities of daily living (ADLs), throughout the day.

Why A CCRC Is the Best of Both Worlds

Whether your parent or loved one needs personal care or skilled care, there is a strong advantage to choosing a CCRC model for them: they can receive both levels of care on the same campus. That means that if your loved one ever needs to transition from personal care to skilled care, they can do so seamlessly with staff they already know and trust, and you won’t need to search for a new community to care for them.

Conversely, if your loved one initially needs skilled care for rehabilitation after an illness or injury and recovers sufficiently, it’s also possible for them to move to a personal care accommodation—again, without the need to move to a new community. CCRC staff will even help your loved one move from one area to another! In short, CCRCs offer the flexibility and peace of mind that comes with providing senior care at all possible levels.

Receive Personal Care or Skilled Care With Chapel Pointe

Chapel Pointe is a faith-based, nonprofit continuing care retirement community (CCRC). We commit each day to serving and enhancing the quality of life for people aged 62+ in Central Pennsylvania. We’re honored that our greater community sees the servant-heart of our nonprofit organization and consistently selects Chapel Pointe as “The Best of Cumberland County.”

Since the beginning, our team's mission has been to ensure that every resident is treated with love and the utmost respect. Experiencing our core values—trust, integrity, faith, service, and innovation—lived out every day at Chapel Pointe reassures seniors and their families that they are making the right decision by welcoming us into their lives. Contact us to learn more!

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  • The Alliance
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  • Best of Cumberland County 2022 Winner
  • Action Pact