Did you know that new regulations give new definitions to these terms?
In 2011, a new regulation took effect in Pennsylvania that changed the definition of Assisted Living, or, to be exact, Assisted Living Residences. These are referred to as ALR's in the state regulations. Personal Care Homes are referred to as PCH's.
ALR's and PCH's are similar in their basic structure. Both provide a place for seniors that need a residence or home that provides help with daily living and personal care, but don't yet need the greater medical care of a nursing home.
The Personal Care Home
PCH's provide food, shelter, and supervision for four or more adults. Some facilities are small, home-like settings that serve only a few residents. Other are much larger, with perhaps a hundred or more residents in an institutional complex a bit like a large apartment building or a hotel
Personal Care Homes can help with dressing, bathing, and eating. The larger PCH's usually offer social and recreation programs to enhance the comfort of residents.
Assisted Living Residences
The new 2011 regulations changed the requirements for ALR's in three ways: concept, construction and level of care.
In concept, the ALR is designed to allow a person to age in place. This means that when a person's needs increase to where they need more care in a facility such as a nursing home, they can likely get that care in their ALR community.
In construction, the ALR is cannot require a person to share a living unit. In PCH's, bedrooms can be shared by up to four people. The ALR living style is similar to a studio apartment. It includes a private bathroom.
In level of care, a person who needs the kind of care a nursing home provides cannot live in a Personal Care Home. They must transfer to a nursing facility. In the Assisted Living Residence, however, the same person would receive the nursing care they require, allowing them age without moving from their place of residence.