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Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?
Chelsea Sayegh

By: Chelsea Sayegh on August 24th, 2018

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Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

Aging & Caregiving

After looking at handful of potential homes for an aging loved one, all your options probably start to seem the same. However, each community is unique, with specific features that sets them apart. One difference you should pay attention to is whether a community is nonprofit or for-profit. This could have a huge impact on the experience your loved one has.

Before you choose a community for our loved one, you need to learn more about how nonprofit and for-profit communities differ. Once you know more about these distinctions, you able to make the right decision for your loved one and your family.

The Difference Between Nonprofit and For-Profit Assisted Living

Before you can decide which type of assisted living community is best for your loved one, you need to know more about what sets nonprofit assisted living communities apart from for-profit communities.

First, let’s look at the motivations behind both community types. For-profit assisted living communities are beholden to their stakeholders or the chain of communities they belong to. These communities are designed to turn a profit.

Nonprofit communities, in contrast, are typically affiliated with a group, which could be religious, ethnic, professional, etc. Typically these are mission-driven organizations. While every community charges fees for patients to stay, nonprofit communities reinvest any funds received back into the costs of running the community. So, when you pay for a loved one to live there, your payments feed directly back into the operational expenses of the community.

Now that you know a little more about the structural distinctions between nonprofit vs. for-profit assisted living communities, let’s learn more about how these differences impact the quality of care.

What is the Not-for-Profit Difference?

Watch the Video

Quality of Care at Nonprofit and For-Profit Communities

When discussing the quality of care you'll receive at an assisted living community, it’s important to note that there is no one rule that applies to all communities. There are some for-profit organizations that provide excellent care, and many nonprofit organizations that provide excellent care. However, the structural differences in both of these communities can impact care in some really specific ways.

Because the goal of for-profit organizations is to turn a profit, it’s easy for the bottom line to be prioritized over the patients. Financially, the more beds that are full in these communities, the more profitable the community is. Because each resident pays a fee, it’s in the best interest of the community to house as many residents as possible. While this doesn’t necessarily lead to neglect, it can mean residents may not have as much intimate care and attention from caregivers.

When it comes to nonprofit communities, on the other hand, they aren’t striving for more and more residents. They just need enough funding to comfortably provide care for the residents living there. Because the fees each resident pays are invested back into community operations, residents directly benefit from the financial stability of the community.

Staffing is another aspect of these types of communities to consider. You want your loved one to be well cared for in an assisted living community. And, that means having enough staff members to provide the best care possible. Since it’s easier to turn a profit when you have fewer expenses, for-profit communities might be understaffed, saving money instead of hiring more healthcare professionals.

At a nonprofit organization, the fees paid by the residents go directly to their own care. So, you can expect that the amount you pay is going directly to the salaries of those who are caring for your loved one. And, you can expect that number of caregivers will be proportional to the number of residents in the community.

Also, the purpose of an organization can have a major impact on the level of comfort you feel about the care your loved one is receiving. For-profit organizations are driven primarily by numbers. These communities are in the business to turn a profit. However, nonprofit organizations are in the business of fulfilling their mission and providing outstanding care for their residents.

How to Evaluate Quality of Care

Before you choose an assisted living community for your senior parent or loved one, you need to evaluate each of your options carefully. In this process, you should weight some of the care-related differences outlined above. The best community for your loved one to move into is one in which they’ll receive outstanding care and attention.

When you’re looking at nonprofit vs. for-profit assisted living communities, think about the following features:

  • Community Structure – Is the community you’re evaluating a nonprofit or for-profit community? If it’s a nonprofit community, be sure to ask about their mission to ensure it’s one that lends itself to seniors receiving the best care possible.
  • Community Features – You always want to be sure that the community you choose for your parent is one in which they’ll be comfortable, well cared for, and at home. Care goes beyond the basic medical attention; care also includes the mental and social benefits of a community. Ask about activities provided by the communities you're considering, and ask about all the social groups your loved one can engage in when they move. Not only should your loved one be in the best physical shape possible, they should also be in the best mental and emotional shape possible.
  • Community Care Outcomes – Finally, you want to know that overall, the care each patient receives makes this new season of their life both enjoyable and healthy. Explore the medical care options afforded to your loved one, like physical therapy and healthy activities. If your senior loved one, needs specific care, like memory care, ask what the community does to support those residents.

While there are for-profit assisted living communities that provide great care, your loved one is likely to be more comfortable and well cared for in a nonprofit community. Evaluate each option carefully and choose a community that will be comfortable and welcoming environment for your loved one. Then, you can be sure that this season of their life is happy and fulfilling.

Do you want to learn more about choosing the best community for your loved one? Watch this video to learn more about the benefits of choosing a not-for-profit assisted living community. 

Watch the Video

About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.