Do you have a loved one who lives in a nursing home, an old folk’s home, an assisted living residence, a personal care home, a retirement community, a convalescent home, or a nursing care facility?
While some of these terms are politically incorrect, some are just misused or misconstrued, and some are just confusing. Nonetheless, these terms can be overwhelming for families as they try to navigate through these options.
Over the last two decades or so, political correctness has reshaped this dialect. Sometimes being politically correct can be viewed as humorous, convoluted, or maybe even over the top; however, most would agree that political correctness, over time, has helped improve our sensitivity and decency towards our fellow men and can be applied to just about every aspect of life.
Particularly for the senior care industry, there are a number of PC no-no’s that everyone should be sensitive to. For instance, in the past, a nursing home was called a rest home, an old folk’s home, a convalescent home, or a nursing care facility. Interestingly, on the evolutionary chain of political correctness, the term nursing home, itself, can be an overgeneralization or insensitive to senior citizens. The term "Nursing home" is not necessarily politically incorrect as much as it is overused or misused. For instance, if a local were asked, “what is Messiah Village?” most responses would include, “it’s a nursing home in Mechanicsburg.” As a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Messiah Village is so much more than that. While nursing care is, in fact, provided, so are personal care, memory support, and residential living. Furthermore, there may be a resident who comes to Messiah Village for short-term rehabilitation and is receiving nursing care, but would not be described as a nursing home patient. Using "nursing home" as a blanket descriptor could also be offensive to someone who lives in one of Messiah Village’s independent living cottages and apartments.
Over the last two decades, industry marketing efforts, as well as government agencies, have changed the lingo to offer a more accurate representation of where older adults live. It is important, when referring to a specific level of living, that it is identified as such. Some of these terms include nursing care facility, personal care home (PCH), assisted living residence (ALR), independent or residential living, continuing care retirement community (CCRC), or a 55+ community. These should not be used as interchangeable terms. There are considerable differences between them – sometimes subtle, sometimes great.
Simply put, sensitivity and respect needs to be shown, rather than pigeonholing large group of seniors as living in a nursing home.