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ALF: The Sport Utility Model of Long Term Care


By Wendy Simons

...Which SUV do you prefer? Is it the Expedition or the Explorer, the Hummer or the GMC Yukon, the Grand Cherokee or the Wrangler, the Highlander or the Rav 4, or maybe the Mercedes? These models have changed consumer choice options and offered new perceptions for the automotive world. Virtually every auto maker today has produced some model of the SUV.  Why? Consumer choice!

...Assisted Living Facilities have created a similar situation in the evolution of long term care over the past 17 years. Driven by consumer demands for alternatives to the previous model of care, we have experienced an explosion in the growth and design of assisted living facilities across the country. Travel with me as I explain some of the properties of this model of residence, care and service.

...Assisted services are the care and service components. Consumer choice, dignity, compassion, individuality and the type of structure or environment direct the philosophy of care. These include personal care and hygiene assistance, medication reminders and assistance, coordination of needed medical services and wellness monitoring to name a few. Some facilities have a flat rate for all services and amenities, others have a care/service package to select from and fees associated with each selection.

...Living environments commonly stress a feeling of “residence”. These range from the “cruise ship” model to a “home style” setting. All facilities desire to create a comfortable residential design. Most facilities offer numerous amenities including meals, emergency response systems, activity and life enrichment programs, housekeeping, laundry and transportation services.

...Facility designs include, large multi-story buildings, renovations of former skilled nursing facilities, large single story buildings, cluster designs, neighborhood designs, specialty dementia designs, and small residential homes.  Facilities are owned by large corporations, medium size companies, charitable or non-profit entities, small companies, partnerships and sole proprietors.

...Just as the SUV’s in the automotive industry have charted a new course for consumer’s choice so has the dramatic growth in ALF’s allowed aging individuals and their families a potpourri of choices. New designs and modes come out each year permitting the consumer’s of health care to select options not available in years past. It will be interesting to observe which new SUV’s and ALF’s the consumer’s dictate be reproduced. The ultimate benefit is CHOICE!


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