Independent living is not a new term. It has long been used to describe sort of a step-down from assisted living, an environment for those who can handle many of life’s daily functions on their own. Some large group living communities have independent living, assisted living, memory care and even skilled nursing in one compound as is the case with communities such as Oakwood Common or Henry Ford Village, both in Dearborn, Michigan.
There can be advantages to these community types. A person with a high degree of independence could move into the appropriate section and as strength decreases or independence wanes they can be transferred into the appropriate area right on the same property. That can really be care along the continuum. What is noteworthy is that what some are calling “independent living” homes are also cropping up in neighborhoods, in smaller residential properties but some critical elements are lacking.
It would appear some establish these homes and use the label to escape having to be licensed. Some even call them “Room and Board Homes.” It is true that in some states if a person is not in that bed for more than 14 days or if there is different ownership and management interest in the company providing the real estate and the one providing the care, licensure is not needed. This does not mean these homes are good for long-term care. In the absence of such a regulatory umbrella even non-credentialed felons are setting up these homes for the sole purpose of creating income. Without licensing they can escape the traditional criminal background check. Is this always good for prospective residents?
Also absent are staff training and preparedness requirements and regularly inspected fire safety protocol. So take the time to do your homework when the term “independent living” is used. More often than you think its definition by the owner does not match the needs of those they admit, just to pay the bills.
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