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Different Types of Assisted Living Communities
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With such a wide range of options available in assisted living, how do you know which facilities to consider for yourself or your loved one?

One way to narrow your search is to decide which kind of living environment appeals most to you or your loved one. That's one of the great things about assisted living - you have a lot of choices.

In Wisconsin, assisted living facilities are divided by size and type for regulatory purposes. They are broad categories, but important differences exist between them.

The three categories of residential assisted living facilities in Wisconsin are:

  • Adult Family Home (AFH)
  • Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF)
  • Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC)

Generally speaking, RCACs are geared toward individuals who are more independent, while AFHs and CBRFs offer higher levels of care.

Adult Family Home

An AFH is the smallest type of residential facility. Often a private home, it can contain one to four residents, along with caregivers who may or may not live there. Residents receive care "above the level of room and board," which can include up to 7 hours per week of nursing care. Most AFHs specialize in a particular type of resident.

AFHs of 1 and 2 beds are controlled by the local county or managed care organization, while 3- and 4-bed AFHs are regulated by the state Division of Quality Assurance (DQA).

Regulations AFHs must adhere to:

Community-Based Residential Facility

A CBRF is usually a medium-sized facility, although some can be quite large. With a minimum of 5 beds, these facilities provide care beyond room and board, including up to 3 hours per week of nursing care. CBRFs often specialize by resident type, particularly with residents who have Alzheimer's or dementia. All CBRFs are regulated by the DQA.

Regulations CBRFs must adhere to:

Residential Care Apartment Complex

An RCAC has at least 5 apartments and may provide up to 28 hours per week of services such as housekeeping, personal assistance, dining, nutrition and medication management. 24-hour emergency services are also available. Each apartment has a lockable entrance, kitchen and bathroom. RCACs are regulated by the DQA.

Regulations RCACs must adhere to:

RCACs are either certified or registered.

  • Certified have both private pay tenants and those eligible for the Community Options Program (COP) or Medicaid, are are inspected every two years, plus complaints investigated.
  • Registered have only private pay tenants, are not inspected, and only complaints are investigated.

For More Information

The DQA maintains a useful guide for consumers, detailing the different types of assisted living facilities and listing further resources to help you in your search, which can be found by clicking this link.

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