Assisted Living

Your guide to assisted living

What is assisted living?

The term assisted living has slightly different meanings where in the world you happen to be talking about it. In the main, however, it is a Western concept that means some people – usually with a vulnerability of some sort – are able to live semi-independently in their own rented homes which are part of a wider complex or organisation that offers support. A typical example might be, for instance, a block of flats or bungalows which are supported by a team of concierge, care or nursing staff. As such, assisted living facilities are a type of housing solution first and foremost. The degree to which they offer support differs depending on the facility as well as individual needs. However, the design of each housing unit should have ongoing and changing assistance requirements built into its fabric.

Who is assisted living for? 

In the UK, assisted living is primarily for elderly people and individuals with special needs. Although such people can live semi-independently, they may require professional assistance for specific things once in a while. In North America, assisted living tends to relate to geriatric care facilities which would often be referred to as care homes in other parts of the English-speaking world. Assisted living can, in some contexts, also relate to long-term living accommodation for people who are recovering from severe trauma, such as road traffic accidents that have resulted in head injuries. In such situations, recovery may lead to people moving on from assisted living facilities to fully independent living.

Are assisted living facilities considered nursing homes?

Although nursing is a part of the daily routine of some assisted living schemes, nursing homes are different. In assisted living arrangements, nursing, GP and dental care may all come to the facility from time to time to provide services. In nursing homes, however, nurses are usually on hand 24/7 due to the clients' needs of those people living there. In some cases, the distinction between the two types of living arrangements is blurred as individual needs are catered for.

What is trans-generational design in assisted living facilities?

Some assisted living scheme operators have opted for trans-generational designs that try to do away with the retirement village atmosphere of some assisted living developments. The idea is not to have older people all in one place but to provide assistance accommodation cheek-by-jowl with conventional dwelling units. In some cases, special needs care for younger people will now be provided in the same scheme that had previously been designed exclusively for retired folk.

What sort of assistive technology helps to make assisted living facilities function?

Most assisted living facilities have wider corridors to accommodate wheelchair users. Lifts and ramps are often installed to aid mobility. Hoists and grab rails are commonplace, too. In many residential units, alarms to a central desk are provided, and these sometimes include two-way communication systems for residents to use in emergencies.

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