Residential Care Homes: Assisted Senior Living in a Home-Like Environment

Sophie Bebeau

Written by Sophie Bebeau on Wed Oct 26 2022.

There are a growing number of options for senior living, and though many seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes, it sometimes becomes necessary to move them somewhere that can offer a better quality of life. Luckily there are options that still allow seniors to remain independent and enjoy the comfort of a home-like setting.

A residential care home is a great option because it offers a home-away-from-home setting while still providing needed care and supervision.

There are a growing number of options for senior living, and though many seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes, it sometimes becomes necessary to move them somewhere that can offer a better quality of life. Luckily there are options that still allow seniors to remain independent and enjoy the comfort of a home-like setting.

A residential care home is a great option because it offers a home-away-from-home setting while still providing needed care and supervision.

What is a residential care home?

A residential care home is a residence for a small group of seniors, usually no more than 10, where full-time care and assistance are offered in a home-like environment. Residential care homes are usually located in private residences that have been converted for group living but can also be in apartment- or townhouse-like settings.

Residential care homes can also be called adult family homes, board and care homes, personal care homes, and elder care homes.

What kind of care does a residential care home provide?

Service offerings are built around providing the needed assistance to keep residents safe and enjoying life while still allowing them to remain as independent as possible.

The most important thing to note is that residential care homes do not offer medical care, so they will not be a good fit for those who need the higher level of care that is offered in a nursing home setting.

The specific services offered in a residential care home can vary in each home, but the most common services include:

  • 24-hour supervision

  • assistance with bathing, dressing, & grooming

  • toileting and incontinence care

  • distributing medication

  • housekeeping and laundry

  • companion care

  • social activities and outings

  • prepared meals, usually cooked in-house

Because residential care homes are a much smaller, more personalized living experience, it’s important to research the different options in your area to find out the exact services provided. 

Because of their size, there are usually not many extra amenities like those of an assisted living facility. You can expect there to be some activities planned, but residential care homes generally have a more relaxed, home-like atmosphere where residents can socialize and enjoy themselves in common areas at their discretion. 

What are the room and bathroom accommodations like in a residential care home?

Every residential care home is different, but it’s important to remember that most are in residential homes, so they usually don’t provide separate accommodations like that of an apartment or large independent living facility.

Residential care homes usually provide private or semi-private rooms, shared bathrooms, dining areas, and common spaces.

Who would enjoy a residential care home?

Residential care homes are best suited for seniors who:

  • need assistance with the activities of daily living but not medical care

  • can no longer keep up with regular chores and home maintenance

  • want to stay independent but value the safety provided by 24-hour supervision

  • Prefer to socialize with a small number of people 

  • want a more home-like environment

  • who have Alzheimer’s or dementia (living with fewer people and familiar, consistent staff members can reduce anxiety for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia)

How much does a residential care home cost?

Costs for a residential care home are similar to that of an assisted living facility but can often be less depending on the services provided. The average cost for a residential care home is $3,500 to $4,500 per month, but in some areas, you may see prices as low as $1,500 per month. If dementia care is required, the cost will likely increase to $5,000 to $6,000.

Medicare

It’s important to note that Medicare does not cover the cost of residential care homes.

Medicaid

Medicaid generally does not cover the cost of residential care homes, but in states with an HCBS waiver, residential care homes are typically covered. Medicaid waivers and what they cover are different in different states, so it’s important to research the guidelines for your state or talk with an elder care attorney to get an overview.

VA Benefits

Residential care homes accept payment from the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit program.

Other ways people pay for residential care homes

  • long-term care insurance

  • life insurance

  • reverse mortgages

Choosing a residential care home

Before choosing a residential care home for yourself or a loved one, visit several in your area and do a thorough tour. As you tour each facility take note of several things.

  • Is it clean?

  • Do the residents seem happy?

  • Do staff members seem to know and respect the residents?

  • Do staff members seem to enjoy their jobs?

  • What are the accommodations like? Private or semi-private rooms? Enough bathrooms? Private showers?

  • Do residents seem to get along with each other?

  • Is the residence safe? Are there obvious fall hazards? Security systems in place? Are hallways and exits well-lit?

  • Is the neighborhood safe?

  • Are group spaces enjoyable and well-kept? Are there outdoor spaces?

  • What is the overall feeling or vibe of the home? Can you picture yourself being comfortable there?

After you visit a few different residential care homes in the area, you should have a good idea of what seems like the right fit for you or your loved one.

To learn more about other common senior living options like assisted living, independent living, and nursing homes, read our article: 7 Senior Living Options.

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Sophie Bebeau
Sophie Bebeau

Sophie Bebeau is a writer, graphic designer, poet, and multidisciplinary artist living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When she’s not writing or making things for the internet, she can be found cross-stitching, writing poetry, and snuggling on the couch with a cup of tea and her husband, son, and dog, Buttercup.