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Understanding Wisconsin’s Assisted Living Options

You’ve realized Mom can’t live on her own anymore. That’s hard enough to stomach.

But let me guess. As soon as you started researching assisted living options in Wisconsin, you felt like you were drowning in alphabet soup!

RCACs, CBRFs, AFHs, SNFs, … ABCDEFGs.

Okay, that last one isn’t really an option. But with all the other assisted-living acronyms, it feels like it fits right in, doesn’t it?

Hang in there. We can help.

Below, we’ve broken down all those initials into understandable alternatives so you can get Mom safely living where she needs to be.

So Keep Calm and continue reading.

Wisconsin’s Assisted Living Facilities Plan

First of all, it’s important to understand that Wisconsin has a unique plan when it comes to assisted living levels of care. Not every state has these facility choices.

The main goal in Wisconsin? To keep Mom living as independently as she can while supporting her in all the areas that will help her thrive.

It makes sense, then, that some of the questions you and she will be considering will be how much she can do on her own and how much assistance she needs.

For example, if she isn’t ready to move to an assisted living facility but needs social, physical, or leisure interaction activities during the day, adult day care (ADC) may be perfect for now. Many of these adult day care centers are open five days a week, and while they aren’t licensed, they may be certified.

But if she is ready for a new place to live, would she still like her own kitchen? Her own apartment? Or is she ready to share a dining room, a living room? Does she need more nursing help? How much?

Wisconsin’s Assisted Living Levels of Care give her those options. That’s where all those other alphabet letters come in. Let’s dive in.

The RCAC: Residential Care Apartment Complex

As the name implies, the Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC) is made up of senior apartments.

Mom can have her own bedroom, her own living room, her own kitchen and stove, even her own door to lock. She’s capable of making her own decisions and taking care of most of her needs herself.

But there’s staff around for support.

  • There’s a dining room where she can add a meal plan, letting someone else make some of the meals if she’d like.
  • She can get help with a bath here and there, some help with dressing and grooming.
  • She can get transportation to community services.
  • She can get some support with general housekeeping.
  • There are people around to help keep an eye on her regarding her medicine and health problem developments.

In fact, in a Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC), your mom can have assistance with supportive care, which includes personal care and nursing services. And you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing emergency assistance is available 24 hours a day.

But what if your loved one needs more? Maybe your father’s struggling to remember his medicine. Can’t take it himself. Needs regular help with using the restroom. Is struggling with Alzheimer’s. Or really can’t handle preparing his own meals or cleaning.

That’s where the next level of assisted living care often comes in.

The CBRF: Community Based Residential Facility

When Dad needs care, treatment, and services ABOVE the level of room and board, a Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF) could be the next step.  They provide 24-hour staff for his needs.

CBRFs are licensed for a specific focus, with different “client groups.” Some care for those with dementia or developmental disabilities. Some for mental health problems or physical disabilities. Some for brain injuries. Some for the terminally ill.

But, whatever the focus, food, laundry, housekeeping, personal care assistance, medical administration, and coordination of doctor appointments are all a regular part of support.

The building layout? Basically, consider it like a college dorm for seniors.

  • Your father would likely have his own bedroom and might share a bathroom with another person.
  • But, with most CBRFs, he would take his meals with everyone else in the dining room. He’d enjoy a community living room.
  • And, as a “family,” he and the other CBRF residents would participate in physical activities, events, and entertainment together.

However, with the Community Based Residential Facility, your dad can also get up to three hours of skilled nursing care a week.

What does that mean?

Skilled care is care that’s usually provided or delegated by a Registered Nurse.

Then the rest of the day’s care is delivered by caregivers, much like it would be if he were living at your home. They take care of medicines and handle all other intermediate level nursing needs.

And if three hours of skilled nursing care isn’t enough?

The AFH: Adult Family Home

An Adult Family Home (AFH) is like the Community Based Facility in that your dad would share dining room and living space, and he could get care, treatment and services above the level of room and board, but the AFH is much smaller. It has no more than four residents, none of whom are related to the person who operates the home.

And at the AFH, Dad could get skilled nursing care for up to seven hours a week, in addition to the 24 hours a day of care and supervision.

But there may be a time when he needs more yet. You would then need to consider having a full-time nursing facility.

SNF: Skilled Nursing Facility

The Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) is a nursing home that is licensed by the state of Wisconsin. It provides Registered Nurses 24-hours a day.

So if Dad needs a continuous IV? Significant wound care?  Rehabilitation? The SNF is generally the place best suited for him.

His meals would be taken care of. Staff would take care of bathing, dressing, and helping him in and out of bed and to the bathroom.

In other words, the Skilled Nursing Facility provides around-the-clock nursing, a comfort when your father needs it.

You’re NOT Alone Here

Hopefully now that you’ve read through the explanations of the different levels of care, they mean more than just a bunch of ABCs.

But we know it can still be overwhelming. Which Assisted Living option is the right fit right now for your family?

  • Adult Day Care (ADC)
  • Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC)
  • Community Based Residential Facility (CBRF)
  • Adult Family Home (AFH)
  • Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

We’d love to help you figure it out.

The state of Wisconsin offers the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)—sorry, more letters—as a go-to for many questions.

But if you’d like, with a phone call and maybe an assessment, we can quickly talk you through the most appropriate level of care for your mom or dad, making it easy and quick for you to move on to the next step, whatever that may be.

Because, you know, with single-sized portions and a nice soup-spoon, alphabet soup can really taste good!

Guest post written by Elizabeth Daghfal

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