Understanding the Different Levels of Assisted Living in Milwaukee

Looking for the Best Assisted Living Option in Milwaukee?

Are you doing an assisted living or senior living price comparison for your loved one? If so, it’s best not to make the decision on price alone.  Of course you want to consider quality care and reputation, but did you know there are different levels of assisted living care in the state of Wisconsin?  The RCAC and CBRF have regulatory differences, and the prices will vary too.

The RCAC, Residential Care Apartment Complex, offers up to 28 hours of unskilled care each week for an individual.  That care could include medication management, showers or cleaning. These types of assisted level facilities are often intermingled with independent seniors who have minimal needs and want the option to add more services as they need them.  However, if your loved one has an activated power of attorney, they cannot be admitted at this level and must go to a higher level facility. They must be competent to make decisions.  The RCAC will typically offer a functioning kitchen, so residents can make meals or eat in the dining room if they choose.  What you’ll need to consider is whether your loved one can safely cook and whether they will get proper nutrition if a robust meal option is not offered.

A CBRF, Community Based Residential Facility, can offer unlimited unskilled cares PLUS up to three hours of skilled nursing care a week.  Some CBRF communities will provide sliding scale diabetic treatment, assistance with using the toilet, and other higher level cares such as wound care.  Residents may not be cooking anymore, so meals will normally be provided.  Someone with an activated power of attorney could be admitted at this level.  In addition, it is likely that you’ll have care staff around the clock, providing reassurance and peace of mind. Most memory care (dementia care) facilities will also be at the CBRF level.

What is the difference in cost for these assisted living levels?  The CBRF will probably cost more, but the benefits are huge if you want your loved one to be able to stay in their home if their needs change and exceed those covered at the RCAC you’re considering.  Many families will say they “don’t want to have to move Mom again.”  If that’s the case, a CBRF could be the better choice.  While some RCAC communities can take higher level cases, they might need to bring in outside services to provide care so they don’t exceed maximums as regulated by the state.  And you might be responsible for paying for those additional home care services.  Someone with an already activated power of attorney will need the CBRF level upon entry.  Many CBRF facilities can offer memory care as well.  These facilities differ from nursing homes, which offer 24/7 nursing care, with some stays being covered by Medicare.  The CBRF is a less restrictive environment than a nursing home.

While you are doing this research, ask these questions:

-What does your loved one need most?  Make a list of Milwaukee senior living and assisted living facilities.  Your loved one’s ADLs (activities of daily living) and other healthcare needs should be considered.

-Will these needs be covered by both an RCAC and a CBRF?

-Does your loved one have an activated health care power of attorney?
-Does your loved one want to stay in one place or move again as their needs increase?

-As always, consider the location, the friendliness of the staff and the facility’s reputation.  Good care is of the utmost importance.


Before you consider price when looking for senior living and assisted living in Milwaukee, remember the differences in assisted living regulations.  Doing a little bit of research can definitely help you make an informed decision.  Most assisted living communities are willing to share their prices after a tour or a phone conversation. The easiest way to find a facility online and to contact them directly is to click on their actual website.  In most cases, paid referral agencies will appear at the top of your search page under the ads, and they will not include all of your assisted living options because they may only be contracted with certain senior living providers. Being search savvy will also help you make an informed decision while considering all your options.

Villa St. Francis is a CBRF offering high level assisted living care plus a secured memory care unit.  Villa St. Francis residents enjoy private apartments and private bathrooms with three meals served daily.  Catholic Mass is also offered daily, plus activities and transportation to outings and medical appointments.


Smoking: Are You Ready to Quit Yet?

Quit Smoking

Smoking Policies: What are the Regulations for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities?

As the last of the Baby Boomer generation begins to reach retirement age, assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Wisconsin are receiving new resident applications every month. More and more people need to live where they can enjoy their golden years and get some help with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, getting dressed, etc. But most importantly, they want to socialize, take part in activities, and live life with dignity.

However, the management of these living centers also has the right to set policies and procedures for the care and safety of their residents. One of the concerns of most nursing facilities regards smoking. 

People have the right to smoke, don’t they? On the other hand, smoking is terrible for the health of not only the residents who smoke but to everyone around them who is breathing in their secondhand smoke!



Wisconsin’s Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Smoking Policies

Wisconsin State laws and regulations seem to change all the time, trying to balance the rights of those who smoke with the rights of non-smokers. Additionally, the safety and health of all the residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers are the healthcare workers’ responsibility and staff. 

How do these facilities decide what to do about the rights of residents who smoke yet still care for everyone’s health? And how can YOU make the decision easier for them? One of the best ways to help everyone’s future is to quit smoking right now!



Reasons To Stop Smoking

assisted living smoking policies

Do you smoke cigars or cigarettes every day? Is your family begging you to quit? Do your children or grandchildren say that you, your breath, or your house smells bad because of the lingering smoke odor? 

You already know that smoking is harmful to your health. You are aware that smoking affects your heart and lungs, and causes coronary heart disease (which is when your arteries narrow, leading to a heart attack, a stroke, or death). It can cause congestive heart failure (fluid around your heart, making it difficult to pump blood) and high blood pressure

Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer, and others: i.e., cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach, larynx, kidney, bladder, and the pancreas. 

If preventing one of those diseases hasn’t already convinced you to stop, smoking can also give you chronic diseases such as emphysema or bronchitis, and reproductive damage like impotence, abnormal sperm cells, and early menopause, as well as causing miscarriages and congenital disabilities.



Ready To Quit Smoking Yet? Wait – There’s More!

If you aren’t worried about the long-term health effects on your body, maybe you’re a bit vain regarding your looks. Here’s what happens to the outside of your body when you smoke:

wrinkled skin

  • Your face becomes prematurely wrinkled and sallow. You will look older than you indeed are. 
  • Your fingernails, fingers, and teeth turn yellow.
  • You can lose some teeth and develop gum disease.
  • You may lose your sense of taste or smell.
  • Your voice will get deeper and sound gravelly and raspy. 
  • Your ability to take a deep breath will diminish, limiting your physical activities.
  • Your immune system will become weakened, which means you leave yourself susceptible to colds, flu, and other common illnesses.

Two More Reasons to Quit Smoking

If you don’t worry about your insides, and you don’t worry about your outsides, here are two more reasons why you may want to quit smoking sooner rather than later:

  1. Smoking is expensive! Cigarettes in Wisconsin are the 10th most expensive in the US. The average cost of a pack is $7.67. If you smoke just one pack per day, you’ll spend $233 every month – that’s nearly $2,800 every year. By the way, if you’re a cigar smoker, your expenses may be higher depending on the brand of cigar you enjoy!
  2. Your future! With all the health problems you may experience from smoking, as you age, you’ll likely need to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, although Wisconsin State law currently gives residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities permission to smoke outdoors, they don’t have to accept you as a resident if you do! This means you or your family will have fewer choices of where you can live if you remain a smoker. 

Do you really want to do that to the people you love? Or to yourself? Are you ready to quit yet? Keep reading, and you may finally be convinced.



Quality of Care Regulation in Facilities

Under the Quality of Care regulation (42 CFR 483.25), every facility and nursing home must provide, and each resident must receive the necessary services and care to allow residents to maintain their physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing. 

The health facility must ensure that the environment remains free of hazards and foreseeable risks of harm. The staff and volunteers must take reasonable steps to ensure that a resident receives assistance devices (walkers, handrails, etc.) and constant supervision to keep them safe. The staff must anticipate and prevent accidents to the best of their ability.

Connected to these precautions and supervision is the Wisconsin Clean Indoor Air Act (Wis. stat. 101.123). This became effective in July 2010 and now prohibits smoking inside all nursing homes and in-patient healthcare facilities, including assisted living centers. However, smoking is not currently banned outdoors. This means if a current resident wants to smoke, they have the right to do so. A safe place must be provided to them. 



Smoking Policies Under Facility Care

Unfortunately, injuries from smoking can occur even when a resident is adequately supervised. Injuries may happen with a disabled or physically impaired resident or when a non-disabled resident is lighting a cigarette and accidentally drops it or the lit match. Clothes may catch on fire, and the smoker or a bystander can get injured. Sometimes these accidents result in severe burns.  

Because of the potential for these kinds of accidents, nursing homes and healthcare centers have various smoking policies to address safety concerns. Wisconsin state law allows nursing homes and assisted living centers two choices: 

  1. The facility can allow smoking only outdoors in specific, designated areas.  
  2. The facility can identify the entire campus as non-smoking and ban tobacco use altogether.

The new policies must be clearly explained to current staff and residents, to any new or potential residents, and staff both orally and in writing. 

Once a location has determined that it will be a non-smoking facility, if a potential resident admits to being a smoker during the interview process, the facility can refuse them.  

New residents must agree to abide by the non-smoking policy, and if they are caught smoking, the center may ask the resident to leave. If a potential resident doesn’t feel that they can follow these smoking regulations, the facility can suggest they find another place to live. Having an explicit smoking policy helps the nursing home settle or deter any situation that may come about.



Rules for Smoking in Facilities

designated smoking area

As mentioned above, a healthcare facility has the right to ban smoking altogether. However, there are a few reasonable restrictions and limitations related to their current residents. For example: although new residents may be prohibited from smoking, the nursing home or assisted living center must allow a current resident to continue to smoke in a designated area outside the building. The current residents do not lose their right to smoke because of a change in policy and the need for someone to assist them. 

However, the facility has the right to restrict residents’ smoking to certain times of the day, outdoor locations, type of assistance offered, frequency, what they’ll do in inclement weather, etc.

Especially if the smoking area is away from the building, the nursing home or living center must continue to keep the health and safety of the residents their first responsibility.

Designated Smoking Areas

For the residents’ safety and ease of staff assistance, designated outdoor smoking areas should be easily accessible and located near the facility building. This area also needs to protect other residents and staff from secondhand smoke as well. The healthcare facility is required to provide noncombustible ashtrays and garbage cans, and oxygen tanks must never be anywhere near the smoking area – even if the smoker is the one who needs the oxygen. 

With all these regulations and guidelines, you can see why a nursing home or assisted living facility would instead make their location smoke-free!



How Facilities Revise Their Policies on Smoking

A healthcare facility that allows smoking can change their policy at any time to become a non-smoking facility. These changes must be announced to residents and staff verbally and through written and posted notifications. The federal government regulation – 483.10(g)16 – states that the nursing home or care facility must receive written confirmation from each resident, their legal representative, or a family member, acknowledging their receipt of the new rules and what changes will occur regarding residents who smoke. These facilities will also often notify the residents’ families, the community, visitors, and sources of referrals regarding their smoking policy change.



The Rights of Current Residents

Guidance from Wis. Admin Code 42 CFR 483.10(f)2 states that when/if a healthcare facility or nursing home decides to change its smoking policy to prohibit smoking by staff or residents, it still needs to allow their current residents to smoke. The facility must also offer a location that maintains the quality of life for its residents who smoke.

However, residents admitted after the policy change date are restricted from smoking and must follow the new policy. Current residents are considered “grandfathered in” and can continue to smoke – albeit outdoors – because they moved into the location when smoking was allowed. This means that any assisted living facility or nursing home which currently has residents who smoke must continue providing an outdoor area for them to do so in safety and comfort – even after they become a non-smoking facility.



Help to Quit Smoking

For residents who wish to quit smoking, the healthcare facility is responsible for helping them. The assistance must include medically-related social services to maintain the wellbeing of every resident. The benefits available through Medicaid are over the counter nicotine chewing gum and patches, as well as other prescribed medications, group classes, and therapy.

Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are responsible for meeting the emotional and physical needs of all their residents. (Guidance for 42 CFR 483.40(d).) They must also accommodate each person’s choices and desires for how they want to spend their day, whether inside or outside of the building.

Villa St Francis

Villa St. Francis is a smoke-free assisted living facility. At Villa St Francis, our community is built on a foundation of caring and dignity. We respect every person’s fundamental dignity, where all feel welcome, supported, and cared for. We offer a wide variety of activities to provide educational, social, and physical opportunities to enhance our residents’ lives. We want our residents to be as happy and healthy as possible and work to help everyone become smoke-free.

Today, make a promise to yourself to quit smoking. Your family, friends, wallet, and your healthy future will thank you for it!

Are you interested in learning more about Villa St. Francis? Give us a call, and we’re happy to give you a tour and answer all your questions.

How Assisted Living Facilities Can Prevent Resident Emergency Room Visits

Prevent resident emergency room visits

You have loved ones who are growing older. They may be your parents, grandparents, special friends, or other close relatives. Over the past few months or years, you’ve noticed a concerning pattern: they seem to need more and more help around the house. You’re worried they aren’t eating well that they forget to take necessary medication, and you occasionally notice bruises that they can’t explain. Are they falling? Bumping into furniture? What happens when or if they get seriously hurt?

Injured Senior

You can’t be with your elderly relatives every minute of every day, but you’re not sure they’re ready for an assisted living community. Is there something “in-between” where they can live? A place where they will stay safe and yet still have some independence and freedom? Unfortunately, living with you is not an option. So, what will you do in case of an accident?

The First Emergency

You’ve just gotten a phone call in the wee hours of the morning with the news that your elderly loved one has taken a bad fall. You jump into your car and drive like a rocket to the hospital. An ambulance brought them to the nearest emergency room, and you get there as fast as you can. 


You stand by and watch the unfolding drama of doctors and nurses working on your relative. As you wait for news, it starts to sink in that severe crises like this can and will happen. So how can you help your senior loved one prepare for, recover from, or, more importantly, avoid an accident like this? You can’t predict when an emergency may happen. Still, you know you should be proactive and sit down with your extended family to put together a plan for the near future.

The Hospital

Word comes back from the emergency room doctor that your senior loved one has broken a hip – meaning days of hospitalization and months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, breaking a hip is a widespread orthopedic injury suffered by those aged 65 and over and can sometimes lead to additional and severe conditions.

These additional complications associated with a broken hip can be life-threatening. Some damaged or fractured hips will need surgery, and the recovery time may be different depending upon the person’s underlying level of health and age. Allowing a hip fracture to heal naturally means staying in bed for 2 to 3 months. Most doctors feel it’s too dangerous for elderly patients to be immobile for that length of time. Serious complications such as pneumonia, depression, muscle atrophy, and slower healing may occur. Blood thinners may be prescribed as well to reduce potential pulmonary embolism or stroke.

Depending on the type of break, there are several ways to repair a broken hip. This can include everything from adding metal screws to keep the bones in place to a partial or total hip replacement. Your loved one’s doctor will determine the best course of action.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Your elderly loved ones stay at the hospital will most likely last up to a week post-surgery. Recovery time for hip surgery vastly differs between patients. Some people may begin to regain mobility after just a few weeks, while others can take six months to start feeling better. From the hospital, the patient will need to move to a care facility for rehab. However, some people can go home and have either in-home rehabilitation and/or go back and forth to a facility every day or week for their therapy.


But if your senior family member was having trouble caring for themselves before the accident, how will they manage at home with a broken hip? It’s more than likely that the doctor will insist on sending your loved one to a rehab facility where they can stay for the next few months or as long as necessary. 

Recent research has shown that patients who take part in a rehab program for a minimum of six months after surgery are more likely to fully recover without having a permanent disability than those who only have physical therapy for a short time. At the rehabilitation facility, your loved one will re-learn how to manage daily activities. These can include cooking light meals while seated, bathing while on a bath stool, how to use a walker, crutches, strengthening their muscles for more stable walking, etc. Frankly, for some senior citizens, it may take up to a year for a full recovery.

Tips for a Faster Recovery

One of the best ways to help with your loved one’s recovery is to get them out of bed and moving. Help them walk across the hospital room to sit in a chair or up and down the hallway. This will limit complications and get the blood and other body fluids circulating. A physical therapist can show you a few easy exercises as well.


Older adults generally need more extensive assistance with personal care, taking medicines, physical therapy, etc., for a more extended period of recovery. You can also shorten your loved one’s recovery time by doing some exercises together every time you visit. Even taking a short walk can make a huge difference. Physical activity provides benefits such as improved mobility, increased muscle strength, better balance, and better joint function. 

Other than exercising, here are a few more ideas to help your elderly loved one to recover more quickly:

  • Help them get in and out of chairs. Don’t yank them up but allow them to use you for balance.
  •  Find out what medications they take and when each is taken. If any of the meds make your loved one feel dizzy, talk to the doctor. Find out if they can take it right before bedtime instead.
  • Alcohol and tobacco reduce bone density. They are much more likely to cause fractures and slow down healing, even after a minor incident. If your loved one smokes or drinks alcohol, help them to stop.
  • On the other hand, don’t let your elderly loved one push themselves too hard. Their body needs time to rest. It’s okay to take a nap in the afternoon!

Once your elderly relative is ready to leave the rehab facility, what’s the next step? Are you afraid that they might hurt themselves again? Are you concerned that they won’t take care of themselves or resort to sitting on the couch watching television all day? The last thing you want is for them to get hurt again and have repeated trips to the emergency room.

Planning Ahead – Crisis Prevention

Hopefully, your family has taken the time to discuss a plan with your elderly loved ones long before a crisis happened. If not, now is the time! Too often, a difficult conversation is put off, and the family begins to experience anxiety or guilt at the mere thought of putting their elders in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. A family member may feel that it is their responsibility to take care of the aged relative in their own home. Someone in the family may have even made a vow that the elderly loved one would never be sent to live in a nursing home or assisted care facility. Another family member may believe that he or she is the only one who can/should care for the senior loved one.

daughter talking to mother

However, too many times, family members cannot help to care for their aging loved ones. They don’t visit very often because of work responsibilities or where they live. That means everything ends up falling to one person to do everything. This often creates resentment, anger, and frustration among family members.

By talking things out and creating a plan, the entire family, including the elderly loved ones, can take time to express their feelings, tour various locations, and feel good about the choices made. The goal is not to have just one brief talk and then suddenly move your aging loved one to a new facility. Instead, keep the lines of communication open to stimulate a respectful and effective way to address concerns and have as many conversations as necessary to come to an agreement.

When an Assisted Living Facility May Be Necessary

To prevent resident ER visits, it may be better for your elderly loved one to live in an assisted care facility. Professional care workers have the knowledge and understanding as to what the residents need to thrive and stay safe.

Sometimes there are abrupt changes in health or safety conditions when it’s clear that a senior relative must move immediately. The family may have very little time to make decisions in these situations. These can include:

• Onset of dementia

• Death of a spouse or caregiver

• Injury leading to hospitalization

• Severe, sudden illness

How does a family know when the move to an assisted care facility is necessary, other than the above situations? There are several signs to recognize:

• Family members have tried other resources to keep a loved one in their own residence. Still, adequate assistance is not being provided.

• You realize that an assisted living facility is healthier and more beneficial than hiring someone to help with your elderly relative’s care needs.

• A doctor has recommended that it’s time for an assisted living placement.

• Your elderly loved one has healthcare needs that they can’t manage well, even with your assistance.

• Important relationships are suffering significantly.

• Your aging family member has made repeated trips to the emergency room.

• Your own physical and/or emotional health is declining because you are concerned about the aging relative and the amount of time you need to give them. 

It may be time to go forward with a loved one’s move to an assisted living facility if any of these signs sound familiar. By talking with others in your community who can make a recommendation, your family can find the perfect place for your loved one. Research several sites and make an appointment to visit. Ask questions and get a feel for each location. 

An Assisted Living Facility Can Prevent Accidents

Assisted living facilities are perfect for senior citizens who are somewhat independent and active but who want to connect with others around the same age – people with whom they share common interests, experiences, and memories. These residents aren’t able to do home maintenance tasks such as yard work, cleaning, cooking, or laundry and they often aren’t safe to be living alone. Companionship and organized activities fill their days. Residents living in this kind of facility have private apartments with their own bathrooms. However, there is also staff available to assist residents with simple jobs, taking medication, and daily personal tasks like bathing, dressing, etc.

Villa St. Francis Milwaukee

An assisted living facility can be the ideal solution for an aging relative for many families. The entire family can enjoy peace of mind once their elderly loved one is living where they can be independent, enjoy themselves, and be safely looked after. The need for family members to be hyper-alert, daily caregivers is finally abated. Additionally, families know their loved one’s health and safety needs, independence, freedom, privacy, dignity, and socialization needs will be taken care of. 

By offering arts and crafts, social hours, entertainment, exercise classes, and more, elderly residents stay motivated, connected, interested in life, and safe. Staff is available to be sure every resident takes their medication on time, keep tabs on everyone, help with daily tasks, and assist those who may not be steady on their feet.

A Final Word from Villa St. Francis

It can be very stressful when thinking about or discussing care options for your loved one. If it feels as if you or others in the family are drowning with the responsibility and the burden of being the caregiver, it is time to have a conversation with the entire family. Acknowledge that you love your elderly relative, but it’s getting to be more than you can handle. 

Frankly, it is more dangerous for your aging parent to be home and potentially have an accident than to move to an assisted living facility. By making a solid plan, everyone can still be there for their loved ones and provide the emotional support they need. 

Looking for the best community for an elderly loved one can be difficult, so start with Villa St. Francis.

Villa St. Francis is located near St. Francis Hospital on the south side of Milwaukee. Our facility offers a caring, home-like atmosphere for those who need some help with the activities of daily living or for independent seniors looking for a minimal level of assistance. Villa St. Francis can help them live life to the fullest.  To learn more about Villa St Francis, give us a call at 414-649-2888 or contact us here!

Book a Tour of our Facility

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.