A Complete Guide to Assisted Living in Florida

Group of happy senior women playing mah-jong with friends at Heidi's Haven Assisted Living Facility

The National Center for Assisted Living reports that over 800,000 Americans are living throughout the US in assisted living facilities.

Florida has the second-highest licensed capacity rate. It offers 75,000 spaces to eligible seniors. With its temperate, climate, and low tax obligation for seniors, Florida is an industry leader in assisted living options.

Finding senior care for you or a loved one could be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help.

Check out this complete guide to assisted living in Florida. Follow these steps and you’ll find the best assisted living options for those you love the most.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a residential senior care model that provides a resident with a personal care level unique to that senior. Assisted living facilities rent rooms or apartments to seniors. They provide personal, onsite care like cooking meals, dressing, or bathing.

Assisted living housing also offers other services like housekeeping or organized social outings. Some facilities may also provide other assistance to their residents. This assistance might include transportation or onsite salons and barbershops.

An assisted living facility is a good choice for a senior who thinks they’ll need a higher level of direct care soon. They may currently only need light assistance with some day-to-day tasks.

What’s the benefit of this assisted living option? Residents can receive as little or as much help as they need.

Staff is available on-site 24/7. They’re ready to help with emergencies and make sure that assistance is available for residents when they need it the most.

This flexibility allows seniors to keep much of their autonomy and independence.

An assisted living community will evaluate potential residents’ physical and cognitive needs. They conduct an in-person assessment before the senior moves in.

During this period, the assisted living staff will meet with the seniors to assess their mobility, cognition, and fine motor skills.

They’ll also meet with the senior’s family members to discuss any health conditions or concerns. These steps help staff to create personalized care plans.

Assisted Living Facility License Categories

All assisted living facilities must have a standard living facility license before they can open their doors in Florida. A standard living facility license says the operator can provide direct physical assistance to residents.

It also empowers them to supervise medications, daily living activities, and other services.

There are three other licenses that a facility can offer beyond what’s required for a standard license. These three additional licenses include:

Limited Nursing Services (LNS) License

Assisted living facilities that hold an LNS license provide the standard license basic services as well as nursing care. These care providers have licensed nurses who work within the scope of the nursing practice.

Limited Mental Health (LMH) License

AN LMH license is obtained if the facility serves more than one mental health resident. Facilities with this license consult regularly with a resident and their mental health case manager. They’ll develop and implement a community living support plan for the resident.

Extended Congregate Care (ECC) License

An ECC license provides basic services to allow residents to age in place at the facility. Other services provided include:

  • Supervising residents with cognitive impairments like dementia
  • Limited nursing assessments and other services
  • Helping with toileting, bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Monitoring fluid and food intake
  • Developing special diets
  • Measuring and recording weight and other vital signs
  • Providing educational programs that prevent illness and promote good health
  • Providing transportation to medical appointments
  • Providing or arranging rehabilitative services

Other Models for Elderly Care

There are some other common forms of assisted living currently in the senior healthcare industry. It’s common to confuse what each of these models provides and how they compare to assisted living.

Here are some of those other senior assisted living arrangements you might have heard of:

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes provide a level of service known as custodial care. Custodial care ranges from bathing and dressing to helping a resident get out of their bed.

Nursing homes also provide onsite medical attention to the site’s residents. Licensed nurses and doctors monitor patient care along with other medical staff who are on-site as well.

It’s easy to confuse nursing homes with assisted living facilities. There are some stark differences between both service models.

A nursing home provides its residents with a private or semi-private room with no kitchen or living room. As noted above, an assisted living community provides its residents a home-like suite or apartment. These units will have their own private kitchens and bathrooms.

Aging at Home

Aging at home is another option for caring for seniors. Aging at home means allowing seniors to stay in their homes as long as they can to preserve their independence.

Sometimes a senior’s residence might need what’s called an age-in-place alteration. Others might only need a visiting professional caregiver, family member, or other network support.

Independent Senior Living Community

Independent senior living communities allow seniors to buy or rent a condo, apartment, or single-family residence. All of these units are within senior-friendly surroundings. Residents can access nearby clubhouses, shops, and gyms.

An independent senior living community allows its residents to receive other conveniences. These conveniences include housekeeping and security services. An independent senior living community will also offer companionship through regular social events.

Steps to Finding Assisted Living in Florida

As described above, there are many models and formats in the senior home healthcare industry today. Each of these models is built around what parents can or can no longer do by themselves.

Before you start to tour individual sites, do the following assessments:

Assess Your Parent’s Abilities

Take some time and evaluate your parent’s abilities to see what they can or can’t currently do by themselves.

There are two assessment tools that assess these abilities. They’re called the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) and the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) assessments.

IADL abilities are the everyday functions that many consider routine tasks that adults perform daily. These abilities range from driving cars to grocery shopping. Other IADL abilities include:

  • Correctly taking prescribed medication
  • Managing personal finances (i.e., paying bills)
  • Cleaning or maintaining a home.

ADL tasks are routine personal hygiene tasks. Examples of these tasks include:

  • Getting in and out of bed by themselves
  • Using the toilet
  • Getting dressed
  • Brushing their teeth or shaving
  • Using silverware or glasses to feed themselves
  • Shaving or brushing their teeth

When you have an accurate picture of their daily living capabilities, you’ll be able to identify the best-assisted living options that can meet their needs.

Calculate the Costs

Your next job is to review your parent’s current financial sources and determine if those sources can cover the services they need. There are many public subsidies that routinely help cover these costs that come with aging.

The US Medicare Health Insurance program provides entitlements to help pay for those expenses associated with elderly care. Medicare can pay for costs ranging from home health care aides to nursing home fees.

Medicare can also cover other senior care costs like home health care visits or nursing home expenses. Enrollees can enroll in one Medicare supplemental (or “Gap”) plan to help cover these long-term care costs.

Medicare Supplemental Plans K, L, and M have similar procedures when it’s time to pay for nursing home fees or hospice expenses. Medicare Plan M will cover roughly 20 percent of these expenses.

Medicare Plan K will pay for over 50 percent of hospice care fees. Medicare Plan L will cover 70 percent of these costs. A Medicare supplemental plan is purchased from a private insurance company.

Research Area Service Providers

When you have a list of assisted living options near you, start researching their caregiving experience. Research their credential background information.

Accreditation can come from agencies such as the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC.) The Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP.) The also helps demonstrate a provider’s standard for patient care.

Interview Service Providers

Start interviewing your shortlist of service providers. Ask them questions like how they screen their employees.

You can also ask if these providers have front-line staff with other unique skills. Examples of unique skills can include foreign languages used. Other skills include experience serving Holocaust survivors.

Additional Assisted Living Resources in Florida

There are governmental and private resources that can help with your assisted living decisions. Some of these resources include:

The Department of Elderly Affairs

The Department of Elderly Affairs is a state governmental agency that administers state programs serving senior citizens. This department offers an impressive list of financial and social services aimed at helping seniors stay as independent and active as they can.

Some of the services they provide include:

  • Adult protective services
  • Caregiver respite
  • Intergenerational social programs
  • Transportation for eligible seniors

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is managed by the Department of Elder Affairs. This Department organizes volunteer ombudsmen to advocate for long-term care facility residents.

Ombudsmen regularly visit assisted living residents to collect their comments and concerns. They also work to make sure that facilities continue to honor the terms and conditions included in their residential service agreements.

SHINE

SHINE is an abbreviation for Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders. SHINE is also managed by the Department of Elder Affairs.

SHINE is a network of locations that train volunteers to help elders with concerns related to the Medicaid system, health insurance, or Medicare.

SHINE provides these services free of charge. All services are confidential. Meetings with a SHINE volunteer can be in person or on the phone.

Senior Legal Helpline

The Senior Legal Helpline provides advice to seniors regarding civil law matters. The Department of Elder Affairs maintains this free helpline. They help seniors schedule appointments for those who want to speak to Florida legal professionals on the phone.

The Senior Legal Helpline provides free legal advice and briefings, referrals to state or local regulatory agencies, and helps find legal representation if the senior must attend court.

Medicaid Non-Emergency Transportation (NET) Waiver

Current law requires Florida assisted living facilities to provide transportation for residents. They must help residents who can’t drive or use public transit on their own.

The Medicaid Non-Emergency Transportation Waiver reimburses transportation providers (i.e., bus services, taxi drivers) for non-emergency transit needs. These rides can include transportation to run errands or attend doctor’s visits.

Veterans’ Affairs

The Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Administration provides financial support to veterans and their family members who are in need of assisted living.

Veterans can receive a benefit called Housebound Benefits. These benefits apply if they have a permanent disability that restricts them to their homes.

Eligible veterans can also receive VA Aid if they need help performing daily activities or live in nursing homes due to lost mental and physical abilities.

Local Area Agencies on Aging Network

Over 600 nationwide organizations make up a network called the Area Agencies on Aging. This network provides elderly care services within a local service area.

Area Agencies on Aging offer referrals and resources on services. These services range from offering home-delivered meals to finding a” home health care agency near me.”

What’s Your Next Step?

Ready to find assisted living in Florida? If you are, then you can start today. You can check our website for insights on finding the right assisted living facility for your loved one.

Let us put our twenty years of experience in-home care services to work for you. Our fees are affordable and our staff is compassionate and skilled. We can be your guide for this difficult senior-care decision that you have to make.

So contact us today at Heidi’s Haven.

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