Alabama Nursing Home Association Consumer Guide

The Alabama Nursing Home Association Consumer Guide is designed to assist you in planning for future long term care needs. Whether you are gathering information for a friend, loved one or yourself, the members of the Alabama Nursing Home Association hope this consumer guide provides relevant and timely information you will help you informed decisions.

Beginning the Process: Determining the Correct Care Option

Before you make the decision to pursue long-term nursing home care, it is important to accurately determine what housing option would be the best in your situation. Here are brief descriptions of various care options.

Long Term Health Care Facilities (also called Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Homes)
Long Term Health Care Facilities care for individuals with documented medical conditions who require around-the-clock nursing care. Nursing facilities are designed and equipped to care for chronically ill patients who are no longer able to care for themselves. The facilities are staffed by health care professionals, including a physician who serves as medical director, registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants. Nursing facilities offer physical, occupational and speech therapy. These services are designed to rehabilitate residents whenever possible, with the goal of returning these individuals to independent living or life with their families. Other people receiving care long term care in today’s nursing facilities include: children and adults with physically or mentally challenges and children and adults with debilitating diseases or conditions, etc. All nursing facilities may not be able to meet these specific needs. Contact a facility directly to determine if it can meet the special needs of your loved one.

Assisted Living Facilities (ALF)
Assisted Living Facilities are for people who are basically able to care for themselves, but need some help with daily activities such as grooming, bathing and personal care. Others may require help in managing medications, obtaining personal care items, handling financial or other activities which fall under the category of “instrumental activities” of daily living.

Retirement Communities
Retirement Communities are generally complexes of apartments or condominiums in which retirees can live independently, enjoying the social advantages and security of group living without the worry of maintaining a house. These settings are sometimes called “progressive care” or “continuing care” communities with some offering an adjoining nursing facility.

Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care is a protective, supervised place for the frail elderly person who has help at home during the evenings, but whose family or spouse is employed during the day. Medical and social services are limited, but adult day care can provide general assistance with activities of daily living, socialization and nutrition. Some programs even offer restorative and therapeutic services.

Outpatient Services
Some nursing facilities make special services available on an outpatient basis to persons who have not been admitted to the facility. The patient can be brought into the nursing facility for services such as speech and pathology services, testing, fitting or training in the use of prosthetic or orthotic devices, social or psychological services, nursing care, drugs and biologicals that cannot be self-administered and other services.

Respite Care
Respite Care offers overnight accommodations, as well as some medical and social supervision, for persons whose families may be temporarily unable to provide their care. Respite programs can often provide families with a much-needed break from the stress of caring for a loved one.

Home Health Care
Home Health Care provides some medical assistance in a person’s home, generally for 1-2 hours, two or three times a week. Some of the services available may be nursing care, therapy, social services, home health aide or homemaker services and medical supplies.

Hospice Care
Hospice Care is a program of comfort and support services for patients who can no longer benefit from curative medical treatments. A team comprised of nurses, social workers, home health aides and chaplains provides medical, social and psychosocial care for the patient and the patient’s family. Medical care is provided on an intermittent, regularly scheduled basis. Hospice nurses are usually on call 24-hours a day. For the most part, care is provided in the the patient’s home or a medical facility.