Alternatives to Nursing Homes

Alternatives to Nursing Homes

There are many alternatives to nursing homes. The Florida Department of Elder Affairs through its Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long Term Care Services (CARES) program can provide you with a free assessment for nursing home eligibility and other community-based alternatives. The Long Term Care Ombudsman's office can assist you and provide information on long term care services.

Community Based Services

Retirement communities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and senior apartments are all examples of alternative community housing arrangements. Other community-based services include Meals-on-Wheels, homemaker and companion services, and church sponsored elder services. Many other institutions provide senior services and activity centers.

Homemaker and Companion Services and Agencies

By law, homemaker and companion agencies may not disperse medication or provide hands on help (such as bathing). However, they provide useful help such as cleaning, cooking, and visiting. They are required to register with the State of Florida and to include their registration numbers on all advertising materials. Typically, they should bonded and carry liability insurance. Ask to see a copy of these documents prior to the engagement of services. Make sure to confirm their license status with the State of Florida and check for any listed complaints.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

These "Care-for-Life" communities offer different levels of care depending on the needs of the residents. As a resident's needs increase, the individual is moved to facilities with additional services. CCRC residents are guaranteed care for the rest of their lives. Most charge entrance fees as well as monthly maintenance fees. The Florida Department of Insurance regulates all CCRC contracts. The Florida AHCA licenses and inspects CCRC facilities.

Home Health Care Agencies

Home health care agencies provide medical services and supplies to patients in their homes. They can also provide medical care to individuals in assisted living facilities and other community settings. These agencies supply the gamut of medical services but can only provide medicines prescribed by a medical doctor. Home health care agencies are required to be licensed and inspected by the Florida AHCA.

A variant on home health care agencies are nurse registries. These agencies act as employment agencies for nurses and other health care workers. They provide nursing care but not therapy or medical equipment services. Nurse registries are not required to carry liability insurance. They are licensed by the state and must display their registration number on all advertising materials.

Adult Day Care Centers

These facilities provide a minimum care. Usually the facility is simply a protected setting for leisure activities, meals and respite care for a fixed portion of the day. These facilities are also licensed and inspected by the state.

Adult Family-Care Homes

Adult Family-Care Homes provide around-the-clock family living arrangements for up to five elder or disabled persons unrelated to the owner. The owner lives with the residents and provides room, board and personal services for the residents. Services vary between Adult Family-Care Homes. Adult Family-Care Homes are licensed and inspected by the Florida AHCA.

Assisted Living Facilities (ALF)

ALFs provide room, board and personal services for the residents. The services offered by ALFs vary greatly, some provide limited nursing or mental health services through special licenses and others provide extended congregate care (ECC). ECC allows frail ALF residents to remain in the facility rather than being moved. ALFs are licensed and inspected by the state.


Hospice care is given to terminally ill patients who have six months or less to live. The emphasis is on providing comfort. Hospice providers may provide grief counseling services and are licensed and inspected by the State of Florida.

If you are a concerned relative or friend of an elderly person who seeks assistance with Estate Planning, Elder Law, or Medicaid, Contact Us Online or Call Us at (904) 355-8888 to set up a consultation and receive our Free North Florida Nursing Home Guide.

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