Posted December 13, 2006

supportive living facilities (SLF) are a relatively new concept in senior care.  The first one in Illinois opened up in 1999 and in 2005 the state enacted to make SLF a permanent program.

See, what was happening was that there were seniors living in nursing homes that did not require 24-hour care.  Maybe they needed it when they first got there, but then the got better, yet going home alone was not an option.   These residents were on Medicaid and the state figured out that it would cost less for them to live in an “assisted living” model than a nursing home that cost more to operate.  The state has saved about 40% in Medicaid costs and is preventing premature placement in nursing homes.

The definition of SLF is affordable, independent living for seniors in need of some assistance with daily living (ADLs), such as medication management, bathing, grooming, etc.  As a state program, financial assistance is available for those who qualify.  But you can also live there and pay privately.  Or move in as a private pay and spend down.

Most of the SLF buildings in the Chicagoland area are brand new construction or rehabs!  Each person has their own apartment, which has to have at least 300 sq of living space, closets and a full bathroom of their own.  The doors lock from the inside for privacy and there are emergency call systems in each apartment.  Also, they are wired for private phone lines, access to cable and include a sink, microwave and a refrigerator.  (Kitchenette.)

Services included are 3 meals a day, housekeeping, laundry, health and wellness checks, activities, group transportation and assistance with ADL’s if needed.

The difference between assisted living that we already talked about and an SLF is that the SLF does have financial assistance to those who qualify.  Requirements include that the resident MUST be at least 65 or older (not always the case with private pay AL).  They must require help with at least one ADL (unless paying privately).  They cannot have a primary or secondary diagnosis of Mental Illness or be developmentally disabled.  And must receive a minimum monthly income of Social Security (SS) of $603 a month.

So how much does it cost?  Well if you want to pay privately, the rates are lower than most assisted living buildings – usually falling in the range of $2500-2900 a month for a single person.

If you qualify for financial assistance then your SS check goes directly to the facility toward payment of your rent and the state makes up the difference.  The resident receives $90 of their SS check back to use for miscellaneous expenses.  (In a nursing home the reimbursement is only $30! – What in God’s name can you do with a dollar a day? – just my 2 cents..)

Where are they?  Good question!  The state has a website www.SLFillinois.com that will give you list of locations that are open and those that are pending.  There currently are about 50 open and operational sites and over 90 pending in the state.   They also include the addresses and phone numbers so you can call and get more information or schedule a tour.  Some of them have waiting lists so it’s good to call sooner rather than later.  The website also goes into great detail than I just did as to how it works! 

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