Although the concept of residential care has been around the state of Minnesota since the 1990’s, people often ask what residential care is and how is it different from a traditional assisted living environment.

Part of the confusion lays in the fact that most residential care homes are licensed as assisted living, but how and where they provide care makes all the difference in the world. Generally speaking, these are free-standing, single-family homes located in residential neighborhoods, not large facilities. They provide high quality care in real homes in real neighborhoods and give individuals a place to age in a home-like environment, often in their own community.

Residential care homes are licensed and monitored by the Minnesota Department of Health. Most are privately owned and managed by a 1-2 person team dedicated to knowing each resident and their family. On average, homes accommodate between 4-12 residents in a low caregiver to resident ratio. This allows for individualized care based on knowing each resident and their needs. Various activities are provided and individual interests and routines are respected. The small number of residents creates an intimate family-like environment. It also allows homes to specialize in types of care. For example, homes might specifically serve those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or 50-70 year olds with other types of cognitive or physical disabilities. Other homes might have a mixed population of care needs. Whatever the case may be, residential care homes are warm and inviting, staffed by competent individuals.

Homes are staffed with awake caregivers on a 24/7 basis. Homes have access to an RN and owners of the homes are often on site. Owners serve as the point person, communicating with families, residents, staff and providers. Staff are competent and compassionate individuals who treat residents like their own family members. Staff receive ongoing training to ensure they provide the best delivery of services. Families and residents find comfort in this and real bonds are developed. Staff, residents and visitors naturally become a family unit. Conversations flow with and among all due to the intimate nature of the setting.

Transitioning from one’s home to any facility can be difficult, but moving to a residential care home allows for minimal disruption because it is a one-time move. Homes adapt themselves to meet the needs of the residents, and work with other service providers to enable the individual to remain in the care home until end of life. Individualized care plans are developed with the family and/or resident and care is modified to meet the changing needs of each resident.

Ask yourself - Would your loved one’s current housing situation:

  • Adapt the environment to meet the needs of one resident?
  • Develop a plan to help a resident with behaviors rather than hospitalize or medicate them?
  • Have family sleep over at the end of life?
  • Allow a resident to iron, laundry, set tables?
  • Recognize them as an individual who has a rich past?
  • Allow a husband and wife to live together regardless of care levels?
  • Have a staff person escort them to the Emergency Room?
  • Move in with their beloved pet?
  • Modify one’s care to support end of life in a home environment?

In the end, residential care homes are smaller, more intimate and offer individualized care through the end of life in a real home environment. All of this is managed by a one or two person management team that closely knows the resident and is available 24/7 to meet their needs and the needs their families.


Article contributors:

Christine Rowland, MSW Pioneer Estates
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Jenny Morgan, RN Breck Homes
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Tina Haugstad RN Nurturing Care
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For more info: www.Residentialcare-mn.org

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA meets five times a year to exchange information and problem solve in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.