Enhanced assisted living offers seniors another option
CAPITAL REGION In some assisted-living facilities, an elderly resident who suffers an illness or fall and needs help walking or injecting insulin has to move elsewhere, often to a nursing home.
But not everyone needs skilled care around the clock or wants to live with a roommate.
So there’s a growing demand for a level in between assisted living and nursing homes. That level, called enhanced assisted living, offers seniors a place where they can live a relatively independent lifestyle but get help with things like using the bathroom or changing bandages, services that regular assisted-living facilities cannot offer.
A new facility in Moreau has opened to meet the demand, and the state Department of Health has certified it to offer enhanced assisted living at all of its 64 beds.
Home of the Good Shepherd started taking residents July 8 at 198 Bluebird Road, Moreau. In the first two weeks, 15 people moved in, and two more are in the process of doing so, said Denise Cote, CEO of Home of the Good Shepherd.
“I really, really was surprised,” Cote said. “We plan on four admissions a month when you first open a facility.”
But Home of the Good Shepherd is the only organization in Saratoga County that is certified to offer enhanced assisted living, and northern Saratoga County is an underserved area, Cote said.
Most of the residents come from a 10-mile radius, including South Glens Falls and Wilton.
Based on the response so far, Cote expects the facility to fill in about eight months instead of the one year that it usually takes to fill assisted-living facilities.
The state recognizes the demand too, and awarded Home of the Good Shepherd a $3.8 million grant to help with the cost of the building.
Although the not-for-profit organization can admit people who already need those services or those who simply want to have them available as they age, Cote believes most of the residents will arrive already needing the enhanced services.
And most will move there from their homes rather than from another facility. Compared with seniors in the past, people today are living in their homes longer and need more care when they move into a facility like Home of the Good Shepherd, she said.
“People are waiting so much longer, because there are services at home,” Cote said.
The organization plans to add to its enhanced offerings even more by expanding its Saratoga Springs location on Church Street to an adjacent parcel, where 48 enhanced beds would be added along with 48 regular assisted-living beds and 12 independent-living apartments.
Kingsway Manor Assisted Living in Schenectady has offered enhanced assisted living since 2008, the first year that the state certified facilities with that designation.
The certification allowed more Kingsway residents to stay there rather than moving to nursing homes, said Brenda Scovello, administrator for Kingsway Community.
“The goal of the enhanced is to retain a resident here and let them age in place,” she said. Fifty spots in Kingsway Manor’s 140-bed facility can be enhanced assisted living, and the company is usually at or near that capacity.
Before enhanced assisted living was offered, people had few options in between living in a facility that offered the basics — meals and activities, for example — and a nursing home with round-the-clock care.
“Very often at that point, even if residents needed to move on, they were not ready for a nursing home,” Scovello said. “The enhanced [service] affords the residents to pay a little more to retain the independence and retain the level of care that is the least restrictive and the most effective.”
At Home of the Good Shepherd, enhanced assisted living costs $6,250 to $6,550 a month for a private studio apartment, compared with $3,950 for regular assisted living.
Kingsway Manor Assisted Living charges an average of $5,800 to $6,000 a month per person for enhanced assisted living in one-bedroom apartments, some of which are large enough to accommodate couples.
That’s a bargain compared to $10,000 to $12,000 a month that people will pay at a nursing home, Cote said.
Enhanced facilities offer varying levels of care, which can make shopping around somewhat confusing for seniors and their family members.
“There’s no blanket application and licensure,” Scovello said. “It’s individual to the facility.”
The state and the facility determine whether the facility will have a registered nurse on staff or contract with nurses to be on call.
Some facilities mainly offer enhanced personal care needs such as help using the bathroom, others focus on clinical needs such as using oxygen tanks and catheters, and some, like Kingsway and Home of the Good Shepherd, offer both kinds of enhanced care.
“It’s very difficult for the general public to understand the complexity of that enhanced assisted living,” Scovello said. “It does take a lot of explanation and a lot of questions and answers before admission or even after admission.”
There are limits to enhanced care.
People with feeding tubes, advanced dementia and seniors who become bed-bound need to move to a nursing home.
Only six facilities in the Capital Region offer enhanced assisted living, according to the state Health Department’s website.
In Schenectady County, Wynwood of Niskayuna offers enhanced assisted living to all of its 110 residents.
Albany County has one facility with enhanced assisted living: the 120-bed Atria Guilderland in Slingerlands, which has 21 enhanced beds.
Besides its Moreau facility, Home of the Good Shepherd also offers enhanced beds to 16 of its 86 residents at its Malta home and 16 out of 54 beds in Wilton.