Assisted living facilities have been the option of choice for many seniors when they were no longer able to safely stay in their own home, even with the assistance of a home care worker or daily visits from a family member. An assisted living facility is able to provide supervised care that includes daily meals, help with personal needs, a secure environment and supervised administration of their prescription medications. Although a licensed nurse is on call should the need arise, most of the daily services are provided by CNAs, kitchen staff and housekeeping employees.
When a senior suffers an emergency such as a stroke, heart attack or broken bones resulting from a fall, they may spend several days in the hospital recovering. Unless a family member will be available to provide 24 hour supervision at home, hospitals typically do not release them to return to their residence. Dependent on the level of care that will be required, the patient may be released to a nursing home or assisted living facility to recover, and sometimes the patient will never recover enough to return to their home.
As a generation of “baby boomers” age, the need for long term care of seniors is also increasing. Although a large percentage of nursing home expenses are covered by Medicaid, at this point neither Medicaid nor Medicare covers a stay at an assisted living facility, but that may change as long term care for an aging population increases. Since seniors who either carry long term care insurance, or have funds set aside to cover those expenses are the primary residents, some assisted living facilities are struggling to fill their rooms and meet expenses.
Hospitals would prefer to release their less critical patients to an assisted living facility rather than a nursing home, but a higher level of medical care and therapy for recovering patients will be needed. Hospitals want to be able to track the progress of patients released to long term care through the use of electronic health records, so there is a positive future for assisted living providers who make the necessary changes to meet those needs.