Nursing Homes vs. Other Care Facilities in Wisconsin

Choosing between a nursing home and another type of care facility can be a daunting task for families. What level of care does your loved one need? What are the differences between nursing homes and other assisted-care centers? How can you be sure a facility is safe?

We entrust nursing homes and similar entities to care for and protect our elderly loved ones, but nursing home abuse remains a growing concern in Wisconsin and nationwide. Following, the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Boller & Vaughan discuss how Wisconsin categorizes nursing homes and other elder-care centers, and some differences to consider if you’re preparing to move a family member into such a facility.

How Does Wisconsin Define a Nursing Home?

Home Caregiver with senior man in bathroom
Wisconsin nursing homes, by definition, provide 24-hour care services.

According to Wisconsin statute, a nursing home is:

“…a place where 5 or more persons who are not related to the operator or administrator reside, receive care or treatment and, because of their mental or physical condition, require access to 24-hour nursing services, including limited nursing care, intermediate level nursing care and skilled nursing services.”

There are a few exceptions outlined in the legislation as well. For example, nursing homes ARE NOT:

  • Owned or operated exclusively by members of a religious organization or convent
  • A hospice facility that provides inpatient care (i.e., a hospital)
  • A residential care apartment complex, sometimes called a community-based residential facility (CBRF) or assisted-living facility

There’s a reason Wisconsin and other states make a legal distinction between nursing homes and other care facilities: States and the federal government have an interest in how nursing homes are operated since Medicare and Medicaid are commonly used to pay for admission.

To qualify for this funding, nursing homes must meet specific criteria and follow state and federal regulations. While federal laws dictate minimum requirements, states can impose stricter laws, depending on the needs of their community.

Furthermore, as reports of nursing home abuse increase, governments, businesses, and private organizations are attempting to reduce the problem. According to one congressional report, almost one in three nursing home facilities were cited for violations that had the potential to cause harm, and nearly 10 percent of all nursing homes have violations that caused actual harm, serious injury, or premature death.

Nursing Homes vs. Assisted-Living Centers

Senior woman using a walking frame with male nurse at home
Nursing homes and assisted-living centers differ in the levels of care provided.

While it’s common for people to use the terms interchangeably, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are distinct in their ability to aid the elderly. To ensure a good fit for your family member, it’s important to understand how they differ and assess the level of care your loved one needs.

Nursing home care includes daily personal care (bathing, meals, medication management, etc.) as well as skilled nursing and some medical treatments. Rooms are often shared, recreational areas and activities may be limited, and 24-hour supervision is required.

Nursing homes are for people who require extensive personal care and are not mobile without assistance. Patients may have severe cognitive impairments and may be resistant to assistance or suffer behavioral problems.

Assisted-living centers and CBRFs offer assistance with daily activities and medication management, but they are not held to the same standards as nursing homes. Residents typically have a private room or suite, as well as access to common living spaces and outside recreation areas.

Assisted-living facilities are ideal for individuals who can walk, require minor assistance with personal care, and are receptive to help. Some assisted-living facilities offer memory care units designed to aid those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

All facilities differ slightly. Be vigilant as you investigate the options; there are plenty of web tools available to help you pick a reputable Wisconsin nursing home.

If you believe a loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse in a nursing home or other assisted-care center, it’s important to act fast. Call the Madison nursing home abuse lawyers at Boller & Vaughan at 608-268-0268 or contact us online.

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