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For Profit vs. Nonprofit Assisted Living

By Sarah StevensonApril 22, 2015
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Last Updated: April 19, 2019

The differences between for profit and nonprofit assisted living communities can sometimes be confusing, so it is important to do your research when looking at these long-term care options.

Learn more about the differences between profit and nonprofit assisted living communities and how to find the right community for your parent or senior loved one.

For Profit and Nonprofit Assisted Living Options

It is critically important for families to do their due diligence in researching specific assisted living options and looking at the data for individual communities to determine which community is right for your loved one – especially when it comes to for profit and nonprofit assisted living communities.

“There certainly is a perception that nonprofits can be a better choice,” says Stacy Scherr, a Senior Living Advisor with A Place for Mom whose academic research has focused on the differences between profit, nonprofit and public sectors.

“However, the data needed to show which care is actually better is harder to come by. I tend to look at the communities individually and how it is being run.”

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

Here are some basic facts about the differences between for profit and nonprofit assisted living options:

  1. Any senior living care provider licensed by the state to provide skilled nursing services must adhere to that state’s regulations and oversight. Providers who are certified by Medicare or Medicaid are also subject to state and possibly federal regulation.
  2. Around 82% of residential care communities are private and for-profit and about 4 in 10 of those belong to a national chain.
  3. Nonprofit communities, in contrast, are often owned by a group with a specific affiliation: ethnic, professional, religious, etc. “Ethnic and religious groups that operate buildings often say they are mission-driven, which implies they have a higher purpose to serve residents,” reports a Chicago Tribune article, but they, too, are businesses that need to operate effectively and adhere to appropriate regulations.
  4. There are many types of organizational structures within senior care and each one will have different cost considerations and missions.

Why It’s Important to Do Your Assisted Living Research

A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor, Stacy Scherr, again highlights the importance of doing your research when it comes to searching for a profit or nonprofit assisted living community.

“There have been numerous nonprofit assisted living communities that have closed up in the last few years because they either didn’t have enough funding or were no longer were able to provide care,” Scherr says.

When you and your parents or senior loved ones are considering an assisted living community, whether profit or nonprofit, Scherr advises that you take the following steps:

  • Eat a meal at the community
  • Get feedback from residents
  • Pay attention to staff friendliness
  • Pay each community a visit in person to get a sense of the way it is run and whether it will meet your family’s needs
  • Trust your instincts

Scherr adds: “Talk with the top administrator, Activities Director, the aides who actually provide care and the Director of Nursing. You’ll get a sense if they are generally happy and work cohesively or if there are some larger issues that need to be addressed.”

You can also use our Assisted Living Checklist to guide your visit.

Whether you ultimately prefer a profit or nonprofit business model, the most important issue when selecting assisted living for a loved one is the quality of care and the resident’s comfort and safety — so don’t skimp on your research.

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

Do you prefer profit or nonprofit assisted living communities? What has your experience been like with them? We’d like to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments below.

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Sarah Stevenson