Curious about picking up a per diem shift at an assisted living facility (ALF) near you? If so, you’re in the right place. Here you will find information to help you decide if assisted living jobs are right for you.
As individuals progress through life and enter their senior years, also known as “the golden years,” the need for specialized care and support becomes essential. Many elderly individuals need support with basic tasks as they can no longer care for themselves independently and may not have the dedicated support of family members or other caregivers. In turn, they may seek help from assisted living facilities, where teams of professionals, including nurses, can provide care for these individuals.
Assisted living facilities play a vital role in senior care as they offer an opportunity for individuals to maintain their independence while receiving the assistance they require. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the services provided at assisted living facilities and the common issues nursing professionals face when they work in these locations. Whether you’re a nursing student wanting to learn more about these facilities, a nursing assistant curious about picking up shifts, or a working nurse curious about transitioning to this work environment, keep reading to learn more.
What Does the ALF Medical Abbreviation Stand For?
The ALF medical abbreviation stands for assisted living facility. An ALF is a long-term facility that provides accommodations and a range of services for residents. These services typically include housing, meals, and personal care support, including managing medications, housekeeping services, and assistance with routine tasks such as bathing.
Other names like board and care, residential care, extra-care housing, sheltered housing, adult care home, congregate care, and alternative care facility can also refer to an assisted living facility.
What Is an Assisted Living Facility?
An assisted living facility provides housing options for seniors who need varying levels of support, such as personal care and medical services. These facilities give residents a sense of independence while providing the support some older adults need with everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, and monitoring their health.
Across the US, more than 30,600 active assisted living facilities have approximately 1.2 million licensed beds.
Unlike an assisted living facility, a nursing home typically provides a higher level of care. Typically, residents in ALFs who need increased care move into nursing homes instead, which cater their support to the advanced needs of the elderly. Typically, nursing homes also cost more as they provide more support to residents.
What Are the Services Provided at an Assisted Living Facility?
Assisted living facilities aim to provide older adults with a comfortable, supportive environment that feels like home. They offer a range of services, including the following:
- Social Activities: These activities are fun and strive to make residents happy, active, and engaged. Some social activities in such facilities include karaoke, movie nights, pizza nights, Bingo, parties, game nights, and barbecues.
- Outings: These activities involve leaving the facility typically for the day to attend workshops, explore museums, browse libraries, watch movies, attend concerts, visit local historical sites, and enjoy outdoor picnics.
- Meals: Assisted living facilities provide communal meals where residents can eat with friends and mingle with other residents. ALFs often have wellness staff, professional chefs, and dietitians on-site to plan and prepare meals that are mindful of residents’ needs and preferences.
- Maintenance and Housekeeping Services: Assisted living facilities provide these services to create a comfortable and safe environment, which can also help reduce stress and allow residents to focus on their well-being.
- Medication Management and Health Monitoring: These services help maintain residents’ health. Teams at ALFs support residents in taking their medications as prescribed, which can include opening pill bottles and tracking dosing amounts and dosing times. Residents can also receive support through night check-ins, emergency call systems, and coordination of care services with primary care physicians and other medical providers.
- Personal Care Assistance: These services support scheduled daily routines like bathing, eating, and dressing. Some ALFs offer concierge services to support a broader range of tasks. Generally, caregivers in assisted living facilities provide support services 24 hours a day, as staff is typically on-site at all times to support residents’ needs or any emergencies that may arise.
- Additional Services: Depending on the facility, ALFs may provide various in-house services, such as spas, beauty salons, barbershops, fitness centers, chapels, gardens, movie theaters, and libraries.
What Are Common Issues in Assisted Living Facilities?
According to a survey on assisted living facilities by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, 77 percent of assisted living facilities reported a deteriorating workforce situation, and 96 percent of ALFs reported facing staffing shortages, which have led to them limiting new admissions. These staffing shortages imply that nurses are often over-extended in these work environments. For nurses and nursing assistants, shortages also mean there are numerous opportunities to work in assisted living facilities, whether they are looking for the structure of staff positions or prefer the flexibility of per diem shifts.
Liability issues are also a significant concern when caring for residents in an assisted living facility. Facilities or even nursing professionals themselves can be held liable for any wrongdoings, and mistakes can even lead to nurses losing their licenses. As with clinicians in all positions, nurses working in assisted living facilities must adhere to the highest ethical principles or may face various repercussions, such as negligence or malpractice lawsuits, for what they do or don’t do while in this role.
Despite these concerns, many nursing professionals find working in assisted living facilities a fulfilling experience that enables them to enrich the lives of older adults and offer them a sense of confidence and independence as they transition into a new stage of life.