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The Difference Between Assisted Living and Personal Care Homes

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The terms “assisted living” and “personal care home” can be confusing. Sometimes they’re used interchangeably, and they can mean different things in different states. However, in Texas, the two are quite different.

What is a Personal Care Home?

Personal Care Homes (PCHs) are residences that provide shelter, meals, supervision and assistance with personal care tasks, typically for older people, or people with physical, behavioral health, or cognitive disabilities who are unable to care for themselves but do not need nursing home or medical care.
 

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The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) licenses and inspects personal care homes to ensure compliance with state regulations. Through these regulatory activities, DADS protects Texas citizens who receive long-term care services. When choosing a personal care homes keep in mind that in Texas, they are licensed according to size, type and building safety features so be sure to ask.

Personal care homes host three or fewer residents and are unlicensed. This generally creates a care ratio of three guests to one care provider and offers the comforts of a familiar home setting. While the state of Texas has strict requirements for the type of care provided on site at assisted living facilities—as well as fire and safety measures on site, depending on the type of facility—personal care homes have no such requirements.

Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services
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What is an Assisted Living Facility?

An assisted living facility provides more comprehensive care than an independent living community, but not quite as much as a nursing home. In Texas, an assisted living facility must be licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).
 

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Assisted living communities provide care in single-family homes in a neighborhood-like setting rather than in a facility with more of a nursing-home feel. There are three types of licensing categories for assisted living communities in Texas: Type A, Type B, and Type C.

Type A and B facilities are similar, except for the type of residents served—and how that affects fire safety on the premises. In a Type A facility, residents must be mobile enough to evacuate under their own power within 13 minutes of a fire alarm.

Residents of Type A facilities must be able to follow directions in an emergency, don’t require round-the-clock monitoring, and can self-assist even if using a wheelchair or electric cart.

In a Type B facility, residents need help to evacuate, may not be able to understand or follow directions, and may require round-the-clock care. Type B facilities need a fire alarm and suppression system, while Type A facilities don’t.

Type C facilities are small. A typical Type A or Type B assisted living facility has up to 16 beds (for a smaller facility) or 17 or more (for a larger one). A Type C facility has four beds and meets all DADS requirements.

Some facilities are certified to provide Alzheimer’s and dementia care; there is a separate licensing requirement for this type of care. Memory care wings, as they are sometimes called, must be secured so that patients cannot get lost or wander off.

Both assisted living facilities and personal care homes are designed to provide a home-like atmosphere. Both provide activity programs, housekeeping services, meals, medication supervision, and help with activities of daily living such as chores around the house, and assistance with personal hygiene.

Which one is right for you depends on your needs as well as the individual facility in question. Personal care homes are not regulated, and their quality may vary. However, in a really good facility, you’ll get more personal attention—as there are usually about four residents to a care worker. In a Type A or B assisted living facility, you may not have the same ratio. Investigate the facilities in your area, and hopefully there will be a good fit for you.

Additional Articles:

The Texas Assisted Living Association (TALA) is a Chapter of the Assisted Living Federation of America exclusively dedicated to representing professionally operated assisted-care living communities and residential homes for the aged for seniors. TALA is dedicated to advancing public policy initiatives advocating for informed choice, quality care, and accessibility for all Texans.

 

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DISCLAIMER: Links to other websites or references to products, services or publications do not imply the endorsement or approval of such websites, products, services or publications by Elder Options of Texas. The determination of the need for senior care services and the choice of a facility is an extremely important decision. Please make your own independent investigation.