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How Do the Department of Health & Human Services Guidelines for Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities Differ?

If you are wondering whether your loved one should become a resident of a long-term care facility or an assisted living facility, there a few things you should consider. The nature of a long-term care facility, like a nursing home, differs from a standard assisted living facility in a few fundamental ways.

General Purpose

The purpose of an assisted living facility is to provide light assistance in a setting that promotes the resident’s independence and enables them to thrive. While the purpose of a long-term care facility is similar, there are stricter requirements as the needs — especially healthcare needs — of residents are often more demanding.

Personnel Requirements

Personnel requirements for a long-term care facility are much stricter than those for assisted living facilities. Illinois state law requires that every resident in a long-term care facility be under the care of a physician, and a nurse must occupy every floor of the facility. Assisted living facilities may have nurses on staff, but the state does not require them. Additionally, long-term facilities must also have a nurse’s station on the premises.

That said, both care facility types must have an alert staff member awake and on duty for a full 24 hours. While assisted living establishments are not required to have nurses on staff, they must have a staff member who has cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.

Medication And Other Healthcare Needs

If your loved one has a prescription and requires a regular reminder or even supervision for taking it, some assisted living facilities may not be the best fit. While some may have nurses onsite, their facilities are not required to administer medications to their residents. A long-term care facility, however, must have medication administered by licensed personnel and they must regularly record the resident’s daily doses.

Furthermore, residents of a long-term facility must have enough physical and psychological assessments as the state of their current health requires. However, an assisted care facility only needs to administer these assessments yearly. See the table below for a summary of guidelines.

Abuse And Neglect

How the state requires each facility to respond to abuse also differs. For example, upon discovering or suspecting abuse or neglect in their establishment, staff members of these facilities have varying requirements. A staff member who becomes aware of abuse in a long-term facility must immediately alert management, the resident’s representative and the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, a staff member of an assisted living facility must report this information within 24 hours of discovery. The establishment is then responsible for making a written account of the abuse.

If you believe a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect at one of these establishments, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other qualified professional.

Guidelines & Requirements Long-Term Care Facilities Assisted Living Facilities
Physician’s assessment prior to admission Required Required
Physical and psychological assessments by a professional As often as is necessary At least annually
Under a physician’s care? Yes No
Personnel requirements A sufficient number of nurses and staff members necessary to meet the needs of residents Reasonably staffed
Nursing At least one registered or licensed nurse on each floor No nurses required, but a CPR certified staff member is required
Nurses station Required Not required
Medication administration and supervision Administered only by licensed personnel, personnel must record daily doses Medication administration and supervision is optional
Dietician-approved meals Required Required
Provides three daily meals Required Required
Mandatory housekeeping Required Required
Promotes independence Required Required
If a resident is abused or neglected Once made aware, staff must report immediately to resident’s representative and the Department of Public Health Once made aware, staff must notify the Department of Public Health within 24 hours and document the report, a written report accounting the abuse must follow