Assisted Living

12/14/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

When you start researching senior living options, you’ll notice that there are many terms for the different types of communities. Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities are common terms. But you may not have heard of a personal care community, or PCC. These communities are similar to assisted living facilities, with a few differences. In some states, personal care communities fall between independent living and assisted living in the spectrum of elder care residences. But in other states, PCCs fall between assisted living and skilled nursing.

Unlike nursing homes, there are no federal guidelines that regulate what a personal care community must provide for its residents. In addition, not all states use the term when they grant licenses to senior care facilities, and each state that does may have different rules for them. Some states only use the assisted living facility designation, which is the type of residence that is most similar to a personal care community. When you’re searching for the right senior care for yourself or a loved one, make sure find out what designations your state uses.

PCCs Support Independence

Like assisted living facilities, personal care homes help fill the gap between independent living and a skilled nursing facility. A personal care community resident is no longer able to live independently, but doesn’t need the medical care provided by a nursing home. A PCC resident needs help with some ADLs (activities of daily living); they may need help with bathing, cooking, eating, dressing, or taking medication. Some personal care communities are also designed for temporary stays, offering care for people who don’t need permanent help, like those recovering from an injury or other health setback. Some PCCs offer respite care, a place for someone to stay if their caregiver gets sick or must be out of town for a length of time.

The Level of Medical Care Varies by State

In some states that license personal care communities, like Pennsylvania, the facilities are not required to have licensed medical personnel on site. In these states, this is where PCCs differ from assisted living facilities, which usually are required to have a registered nurse and dietician on staff at all times. If a resident needs the routine care of medical staff, a personal care community might not provide the right level of care for them. However, check with individual personal care communities. While they’re not required by law to provide nursing staff, individual communities might have them on staff anyway.

Here’s where the terms get a little confusing. In other states, like Kentucky, it’s the opposite—personal care communities provide more medical services than assisted living. In Kentucky, PCCs are required to have licensed nurses on site; all care is overseen by a resident services director. The facilities communicate with doctors and pharmacies and maintain resident charts and medication records.

Design and Construction

Personal care communities vary in size. But, part of their design includes a home-like setting with communal spaces for entertainment, dining, and socialization. In many states, different regulations control the design and construction of different types of senior housing. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, assisted living facilities are subject to certain building restrictions. For example, in that state, assisted living facilities must provide residents with a locking door and small private bathroom. Other states dictate that a maximum of two residents can share a living unit.

Personal care communities, on the other hand, may not be required to provide these amenities; they may have up to four residents sharing a space. However, this doesn’t mean that all personal care communities will have shared living spaces. So make sure to ask questions and tour individual communities as you make any senior living decisions.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff