Nursing home. Assisted living. Retirement community. Personal care home.
For a lot of people, these sort of terms mean the same thing. They all describe a place where senior citizens go when they can no longer live on their own.
And in Pennsylvania, there was a long time where assisted living and personal care homes were virtually interchangeable.
But in 2011, the state Department of Public Welfare changed the way it licensed elder care facilities, creating separate licenses for assisted living residences and personal care homes.
What is a personal care home in Pennsylvania?
So, what is a personal care home in Pennsylvania? The state defines them as “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.”
Personal care homes are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. Some can care for a handful of people, while others are home to several hundred.
Services can vary based on the residents’ needs, but a personal care home (PCH) will typically include help with:
- Eating and drinking
- Getting in and out of bed
- Managing health care and help with medication and prosthetics
- Managing finances and shopping
- Caring for possessions
- Taking part in social activities
- Arranging transportation
- Bathing, personal hygiene and bowel/bladder management
- Doing laundry
- Using the phone or writing letters
Finding a personal care home for your loved ones
Once you’ve answered the question “What is a personal care home in Pennsylvania?” you can move on to finding the right one for your elderly parent.
This is a discussion that needs to involve your mom or dad. Chances are they feel uneasy about the move and worry about a loss of independence.
Make sure they’re included in all the decisions involving the move and let them know personal care homes can allow them to still enjoy all the comforts of home.
The state allows you to search for PCHs by zip code, but you’ll probably want to dig deeper. Make sure the home is licensed, and look at things such as size, cost and whether the PCH is close to you, your parent’s friends, their church or any other community resources they’ll want to access.
The state Department of Human Services suggests visiting several personal care homes during different times of day to help you decide
During your visit, it might help to:
- Visit as many rooms as you can and study floor plans. Ask if your mom or dad will be able to use their own furniture.
- Ask about staff qualifications and training, and how long staff members have worked there.
- Try to sit in on some of the activities. Get a schedule of some of the offerings to make sure the PCH does things your mom or dad will enjoy. Ask about off-site activities and whether transportation is provided.
- Get a copy of a menu to make sure the home offers nutritious meals and can cater to people with special diets (diabetics, people with high cholesterol).
- Learn the home’s rules for pets, smoking, visitors and other regulations.
- Pay attention to how staff members talk to residents. Make sure they treat them with respect. Do they knock before coming into a room? Do they call them by name, and do their jobs with a positive attitude?
At Pennsylvania Stair Lifts, we recognize that it isn’t always easy to find care for elderly parents. But in many cases, it might just only be a matter of making their home more accessible.
That’s where we can help. Our stair lifts and platform lifts allow your parents – or anyone living with mobility issues – to access portions of their homes that might have been off-limits.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you and your loved ones.