Complete Guide: Residential Care Home
Updated: Jan 26
Residential care homes are like traditional homes in a neighborhood; no one residential care home is the same from style to management. A care home looks and feels like a home-away-from-home rather than having a hospital or institutional feel. A residential care home has many names, such as board and care home, group home, and foster care home. Many seniors prefer to age in place, but sometimes this isn't the best option for safety reasons.
This guide explains residential care homes to help you decide if this option of senior living is right for you or your loved one.
Residential Care Home Names
Adult family home
Foster care home
Private care home
Personal care home
Private assisted living
Board and care home
Home for the aged
Home for adults
Adult foster care
Senior group home
What is a Residential Care Home
Residential care homes are a good alternative for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living but don’t require regular medical care. Senior group homes are small homes tucked away in residential neighborhoods. They look just like any other ordinary home on the block. This option provides a home-like setting for seniors and houses between two to ten residents. This allows for more personal care with a low staff to resident ratio.
The atmosphere is quieter and homier. The staff is available 24/7, providing a variety of care and services. The resident-to-staff ratio in these care homes ranges from 3:1 to 6:1. Seniors can reside in a private room if they want their privacy or a shared room if they don't mind having company.
Services Offered at a Residential Care Home
Senior group homes are staffed 24/7 who require more intensive care and offer assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) for seniors. If a senior is at a high risk of falling, or in their final years, a residential care home may be an option to consider. Touring care homes is always encouraged so you can get a feel for the home, staffing, resources, and a feel for the atmosphere.
Services and amenities help residents stay safe but don't intrude on their independence. Services and amenities offered can vary at each residential care facility.
Common Residential Care Home Services
Assistance with the activities of daily living (bathing, toileting, dressing, transporting, bathing or showering, personal hygiene, feeding, and walking)
Housekeeping and homemaking
Some planned activities and group outings
Cost for Residential Care Homes
Residential care home costs can vary due to services and amenities offered and the level of care. Senior group homes usually cost around $2,500 to $4,500 per month. Monthly rates cover room, board, and care needs. Residential care homes are typically private pay, but financial assistance is available such as Long-term care insurance and VA benefits. Other options are available for financial assistance depending on the type of care seniors needs.
Financial Assistance for Senior Living
Residential care homes do not accept Medicare, and some may accept Medicaid. Options for financial assistance include:
Residential care homes don't accept standard Medicaid. With an HCBS waiver, it may. Seniors must meet certain requirements to become eligible. The availability of Medicaid waivers and what they cover can vary between different states. Click the link to explore your state’s Medicaid guidelines.
Veterans Affairs Benefits
Eligible seniors for VA benefits receive a monthly payment. Seniors can use VA benefits to pay for care or however the individual chooses. For additional information, visit the official VA website.
Seniors can use their life insurance to cover long-term care costs. There are a few options to choose from when deciding how to use life insurance. Be sure to read the fine print if you access your benefits early.
Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance covers long-term care expenses, including care homes. Each policy varies, so be sure to check with your insurance provider to see what is or is not covered.
Reverse mortgages convert your home equity into cash. Instead of paying the lender every month to buy your home, the lender pays you (a loan). The loan gets paid back when you move out, sell it, or pass. There are three kinds of reverse mortgages, single-purpose reverse mortgages, proprietary reverse mortgages, Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs).
Is a Residential Care Home Right For You
When deciding if a residential care home is right for your loved one, think about how active they are, how independent they are, how much assistance will they need, and what they will need assistance with. Group homes offer a place for seniors to build relationships with the other residents but also have "me time". Residential care homes are for seniors who need care but don't need much medical attention, such as daily injections or feeding assistance through a tube.
A residential care home may not offer enough physical stimulation for active seniors. Individual or group activities are available, and engagement is encouraged. If activities are important for your loved one, it's best to ask the care home to see what activities are offered and the frequency as this can vary in each home.
Senior group homes give residents the freedom to be as independent as they want. They are small communities consisting of two to ten residents. This may be more appealing to seniors who value small groups, are introverted, value independence, prefer more one on one attention, or just being in a peaceful and quiet environment.
Group homes offer assistance with all your activities of daily living (bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, hygiene, etc.). Caregivers are available 24/7 to assist residents at any time or supervise to make sure they are safe without intruding on their independence. Staff at care homes can perform basic first-aid but not medical care. Caregivers also handle all the household chores and maintenance so residents can live in a home-like setting without worrying about the responsibilities of taking care of a house.
Residential Care Home: Summary
A senior group home might be appealing to shy seniors, seniors who prefer to keep to themselves, like some social interaction, or need assistance but still have a sense of independence. Residents in residential care homes may also receive more personalized care than a larger facility.
Not all group homes will be the same. The environment could be more active and social, quiet and shy, or a combination of social and peaceful. Touring the group home before making a decision is highly encouraged, and bringing your loved one with, could help with the decision process. See how they interact with other residents, the staff members, and if they like the feel of the home. Take your time and ask questions.