The Evolution of Care in Assisted Living

Sunrise Senior Living  |  December 5, 2016

Sunrise celebrates 35 years of serving seniors on December 5! To honor this milestone, we’re reflecting on assisted living—past, present, and what’s ahead. 

At Sunrise, providing high-quality, resident-centered care is our number one priority. Hear more from our senior vice president of Care, Sue Coppola, on how we’ve evolved and what the future may hold.

How might providing senior care have evolved over the years in assisted living?
Thirty-five years ago, people were focused more on socialization and companionship, along with their light care needs. What we’ve seen over the years is that, we’ve gone from caring for a more independent senior who may have needed some assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), to those who have more complex health needs requiring coordination of care and services.

Industrywide, we are taking care of folks who are frailer, needing more assistance with ADLs and chronic disease management, such as diabetes. Also, people are living longer. As the average lifespan has increased, so has the average age of Sunrise residents.

What are the biggest misconceptions about assisted living?
For one, many don’t clearly understand what assisted living is and the types of care and services that are provided to promote socialization, independence, and health and wellness. Some may also not understand where assisted living fits in the healthcare continuum. In assisted living, our main focus is on promoting health and wellness by providing person-centered care and service in a comfortable, home environment. 

Care and services in Sunrise communities are individualized to meet the resident’s needs. We start the assessment process prior to moving in and continue to get to know our residents through a comprehensive resident assessment process. This process helps us to develop an Individualized Service Plan (ISP), tailored to their individualized needs and so we may coordinate care and services with other external providers such as therapy or home health.

In addition, we provide education and training for our team members, clinical care protocols, and focus on quality assurance and performance improvement to help promote the health and wellness of our residents. 

What do you see in the future of senior care?
We’ve always prided ourselves on care coordination. Our teams work closely with physicians, community health partners and family members to help ensure each resident is getting the individualized care and services they need to manage their health and wellness needs.

Right now and looking forward, we need to prepare for a changing healthcare delivery system and desire for people to be cared for in alternative settings or in their home. We want residents to continue to age in place in our communities, just as they would if they lived in their home, which means assisting with managing chronic diseases and continuing to evaluate how we might bring more services to our residents.

Assisted living providers should also continue to find more ways to support frail residents. For us, that means helping our residents, families and team members in  having an even better understanding of conditions such as COPD, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and others so they can understand how these diseases impact aging and frailty, and their role in helping to maintain the overall health and wellness needs of residents.

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