Assisted Living? Or Light Nursing? What’s the difference?

Janiva Toler

Do you understand the difference between “Residential Care” and “Independent Living?” Do you know the difference between “Assisted Living” and “Light Christian Science Nursing?”

Well apparently neither do a lot of other folks. I had lunch with a trustee from a California Christian Science nursing facility last week, and we were talking about the confusion caused by the variety of care terms in our organizations.

Looking for appropriate Christian Science care for a friend or family member can be difficult. You can’t always figure out what type of care is being offered just by looking at the descriptive name used by the facility. Often there are so many choices offered that it can be confusing trying to make the best choice for your situation or care need. So my blog this month will help you to sort through the care choices, and it will define the various terms found especially in senior care.

To prepare for this blog I checked out the Association of Organizations for Christian Science Nursing (AOCSN) website for member organizations, as well as the Organization of Residential Homes (ORH) website. I thought I knew most of the terms for care at our Christian Science facilities, but a few were new even to me! Below is a list of most of the services offered by our organizations along with a definition. It’s immediately clear that the term “Assisted Living” is the hardest one to tie down – I actually found eight other names for it!

1. Christian Science nursing care – usually refers to care that requires the skills, judgment and/or oversight of a Journal-listed Christian Science nurse. This care usually qualifies for Medicare if other requirements are met. Sometimes referred to as skilled care.

2. Christian Science Care – refers to care that may not require the skills, judgment and/or oversight of a Journal-listed Christian Science nurse

3. Assisted Living – is most often defined as providing help with the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, etc. This can be available at larger communities or in home-like settings. Assisted living at Christian Science nursing facilities is also known as:

a. Extended Care
b. Progressive Living
c. Supervised Residential Living
d. Residential Assisted Living
e. Light Nursing
f. Sheltered Care
g. Sheltered Living

Within Christian Science nursing organizations, Assisted Living always includes the expectancy of healing with patients returning to their own homes or to a more independent living arrangement. In many Christian Science facilities Assisted Living is a part of the Christian Science nursing services and under its oversight; therefore it may not be licensed by the state.

Outside of Christian Science nursing organizations Assisted Living is defined as a combining of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the individual needs of persons who need help with the activities of daily living, but do not need the skilled care provided in a nursing home.
Assisted living communities are licensed and are called many different things, including:
Board & care (B&Cs) and residential care homes or facilities (RCFEs)
Personal care homes (PCH)
Adult foster care
Homes for the aged
Adult family or group homes (AFH)

Assisted living is mainly private pay, meaning it is paid for by the individual or long-term care insurance.

4. Respite Care – is the provision of short-term, temporary care to those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home. The term “short break” is used in some countries to describe respite care.

5. Independent Living – For many seniors, staying independent is of utmost importance. For those seniors, there are many independent living options available:
a. Active Adult Communities are master planned retirement communities with homes for sale. Most offer a clubhouse where a variety of activities are offered. Services such as landscaping, maintenance & housekeeping are usually offered as well.
b. Senior Apartments are independent living units with an age requirement. Meals are usually not provided, but most have a clubhouse where groups meet for activities.
c. Retirement Communities offer independent living with amenities such as meals, transportation and activities included in the monthly fee.
d. A CCRC or continuing care retirement community offers independent living, assisted living and nursing care in a single setting. You can start on the independent level and progress as need be, staying on one campus. These communities normally require an entry fee and offer a living unit, meals, and health care.
e. Senior Villages are a newer phenomenon where a group of homes share services and interact to make their own “community”.
Services in the different “communities” may include transportation, meals, activities, housekeeping, laundry, and more. Ask for a list when you call or visit.

Within our Christian Science organizations Independent Living is also referred to as Residential Living or Retirement Living.

For those wanting to stay independent and remain in their home, home care services can offer help with daily activities such as dressing, bathing, cooking, errands, light housekeeping, and more, which allows seniors to get help when they need it and continue to do what they can on their own.

6. Rest & Study which is also called Rest & Renewal is a part of most Christian Science nursing facilities. Rest & Study rooms provide an opportunity for spiritual rest, renewal, and healing. Comfortable guest rooms provide a restful haven for study and prayer.

Let me know if there are terms that I left out of this list. Or if there are other terms that you would like defined or discussed.

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4 Responses to Assisted Living? Or Light Nursing? What’s the difference?

  1. Christine Weller (Ont.) says:

    From Ontario, Canada.
    Very helpful information. I shall keep this on file for future reference.
    thank you.

  2. Becky Lister says:

    I thought there was an organization that supplies in-home care-takers for Christian Scientists, but I can’t remember the name of it. I have been asked for such a reference for a woman living in her own home in Wyoming. Any suggestions? Thank you for any help you can provide!

    • pwoodsum says:

      Thanks for your question. We’ll ask our Christian Science nursing department to respond.

    • pwoodsum says:

      You can look in The Christian Science Journal under the section that lists Christian Science nurses. The Christian Science nurses that have an airplane next to their name are ones that will travel to a call.

      Another resource you might consider is Wide Horizon, the Christian Science care facility in Colorado. They may be aware of resources in the area as well.

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