Researching senior living communities can be a confusing time. Understanding care levels, services, and how to pay for care are just a few challenges families navigate when exploring senior living options. To make the journey more complicated, there are terms used that can make it difficult to understand options and create uncertainty around what makes a safe and comfortable senior living option.

Pennsylvania is a unique state where personal care and assisted living are two terms that refer to different types of care. Changes in regulations to differentiate assisted living and personal care came into effect in 2011. Here, we’ll explore the difference between personal care and assisted living to help you understand the types of care and how they can each benefit your loved one.

What makes personal care and assisted living similar? 

While there are a few differences, assisted living and personal care are largely similar. In many states, they even refer to the same level of care received in a senior living community. Both encompass some level of assistance with daily living tasks, medication management, meals, and supervision. Care is provided by trained caregivers under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Both offer a variety of services and amenities to provide residents with a well rounded care plan, though these may vary based on the community. Regardless of the type of care, residents can feel confident knowing they will have help with daily living tasks and round the clock supervision, in the event of an emergency. 

Understanding the Differences

Assisted Living in Pennsylvania

West Chester assisted living offers a slightly higher level of care compared to personal care which is similar to skilled nursing. Residents of assisted living often move into the community with the same level of care needs as at a community which offers personal care, but as their needs change, an assisted living community may be better equipped to address their needs. This may be a good fit for someone who has a progressive illness or anticipates higher care needs in the future. Because of the increased level of care, there may be a higher cost to assisted living care. 

Assisted living communities in Pennsylvania are subject to more state regulations than Personal Care and are licensed by the Department of Human Services. The majority of these regulations are in regard to the size and structure of the building. Assisted living residences must have a certain ratio of bathrooms to residents and a specific sized public space area. In addition, there are regulation standards for the training of the staff and the number of staff members that are available. 

Personal Care in Pennsylvania

Personal care in West Chester refers to what is frequently referred to as assisted living in most other states. Personal care assists with tasks including: 

  •  Daily living tasks like bathing and dressing
  •  24/7 supervision by trained caregivers
  •  Housekeeping and linen services
  •  Safe transportation

Many senior living communities offering personal care in Pennsylvania, like Arbor Terrace Willistown, also offer resort-style amenities. These include an onsite library, restaurant-style dining, salon and spa, quality concierge services, and more. 

Personal care is a great option for Pennsylvania residents who need some support with daily living tasks and would benefit from the 24/7 supervision provided by the community’s team. They may need reminders for meals or medications, but can otherwise navigate this independently. The nursing team at a personal care community will work with you to identify changes in care needs and if other types of care may be appropriate. 

Many senior living communities that provide personal care voluntarily meet the same standards and regulations. This makes personal care a great option for many older adults who are finding it difficult or unsafe to live at home independently.  If you’re unsure of the approach to care at a particular community, a conversation with the team can help to understand the services offered and determine if it’s right for you or your loved one. 

If you’re ready to take the next step in exploring your senior living options, download our free Guide to Finding a Safe and Comfortable Senior Living Community. Inside the guide you’ll find tips on what to look for in a senior living community when touring, questions to ask, and what makes a safe senior living community. With this guide, you’ll feel confident knowing which community can accommodate the needs of you or your loved ones now and in the future.


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