What is a Continuum of Care?

The human body changes with age. Our joints grow stiffer, our sight and hearing fade and our healthcare needs change.

As we age, the risk for certain age-related medical conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other ailments can increase.

Age-related conditions can be progressive and require medical attention, which mean they worsen with time and call for ever-increasing medical care. In many cases, aging adults benefit from some level of long-term care from a licensed service provider. The level of care needed depends largely on the amount of assistance individuals need to engage in the activities of everyday life. Adults with mild to moderate disability from age-related illnesses may benefit from the freedom of assisted living, for example, while those with significant disabilities benefit from skilled nursing care.

There are now more than 67,000 long-term care services providers operating independent assisted living facilities, skilled nursing centers and other types of healthcare communities. In most cases, each institution provides a narrow range of care. Independent living is for those who simply want the maintenance-free lifestyle, while assisted living is for those who just need a little help with daily activities. Skilled care is for people who need around-the-clock assistance because they need rehabilitation or have complex wound dressings, tube feedings, or rapidly changing health needs.

About Continuum of Care

Continuum of care, also known as continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), offer a tiered approach to providing care throughout the aging process. A CCRC community features independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care all on one campus. An independent living resident can receive advanced care after an injury or illness without having to relocate.

CCRCs lessen the worries of older adults and ease the minds of their friends and family members. Residents can continue living in a familiar environment, yet receive the advanced level of nursing care they need while they need it. Once they recover from their illness or injury, they can return to their former lifestyle without leaving the campus. CCRCs allow residents to slide from one level of care to the next without ever leaving home.

Moving from one home to another is hard for anyone who has to relocate, but moving is especially difficult for older adults. Some older adults experience a condition known as relocation stress syndrome, which causes anxiety, confusion, hopelessness, and loneliness after moving from home to an assisted living or skilled care facility. Also known as transfer trauma, relocation stress syndrome causes isolation, depression and resistance to care that can actually hamper recovery from illness or injury.

Living in a continuum of care environment helps reduce the risk of relocation stress syndrome by allowing older adults to remain in familiar surroundings while they receive advanced care. CCRCs also help older adults build lasting relationships with staff and other residents, and these relationships help support healing.

Continuum of care environments offer a huge advantage in standalone communities in that older adults and their families never have to search for a new facility offering a higher level of care on short notice. This is particularly helpful for couples, they can be together on the same CCRC campus even if one needs a higher level of care than does the other.

Suddenly needing a higher level of care can be scary for older adults and their families, particular for relatives that are too far away to visit. Continuum of care facilities offer peace of mind to those out-of-state family members – they always know where to find their relatives, even while their family member is recovering from an illness or injury.

CCRCs allow adults to “age in place,” in comfortable surroundings with familiar faces rather than moving from one location to the next to receive the care they need. Continuum of care offer all levels of care older adults need in one convenience location.

Continuum of care locations typically have medical personnel on staff to conduct comprehensive medical reviews, physical examinations, and some diagnostic tests and procedures, so those living in CCRCs can rely on consistent continuing care throughout the levels of service. Because they provide long-term care for all levels of health, CCRCs also offer a number of wellness and fitness programs that focus on issues that affect older adults.

The Three Tiers of Health Care included in a Continuum of Care Environment

Some people like to think of long-term care service as different levels of care. Independent living is low level of care, where someone only needs basic services from a home health aide and a hand with housekeeping and meals. Assisted living care is the middle level, where residents receive help with bathing, dressing and other activities of daily living. Skilled care includes nursing services, memory care, and hospice care.

Independent and assisted living facilities do not provide skilled nursing care because they do not have the facilities, equipment, or personnel to provide the higher level of care. While skilled nursing centers provide a higher level of nursing care, they may not offer the conveniences and amenities available in an independent and assisted living facility.

This widespread availability of assisted living facilities and skilled nursing centers makes it easy to find care specific to a person’s needs. A person has to move from location to another to take advantage of each type of care, though, and all this moving around can be hard on an older adult. For many people, continuum of care is the answer.

Visit Forest Hill

Forest Hill offers continuum of care services in a beautiful location. Forest Hill is just minutes away from parks, ocean-side trails, and the many shops, professional offices and the many attractions of downtown Pacific Grove.

Our residents enjoy priority access to our on-site Forest Hill continuum of care, which allows them to go from assisted living to skilled nursing care as needed. Priority access also includes entry to our Medicare-certified Health Center. Our team of professional nursing staff and therapists create and carry out personalized care plans tailored to the individual needs of each resident in our care. Every member of the Forest Hill team undergoes special training in geriatric care so they can provide physical, speech and occupational care for our residents.

Continuum of care provides high quality nursing care, security and quality of life to our residents. Older adults and their relatives can rest easy with the assurance that the top-quality continuum of care is always available at Forest Hill, even as a person’s health and nursing care needs change. Contact us today to learn more.