Special Care Units in Nursing Homes
Please read this brief introduction before checking the list of special care units that follows. Also, please note that this list does not constitute an endorsement of any nursing home and is intended for use by families as a starting point in a selection process.
Many nursing homes have designated areas or units exclusively for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. These special care units (SCUs) have become common, based on the idea that those residents with dementia require specialized care that may not be routinely available in nursing homes.
The goal of SCUs are to provide an environment that enhances individualized care and effective approaches to difficult behaviors often associated with dementia. Characteristics of SCUs may include specially selected, trained and supervised staff, specifically designed activities, family involvement, and a physical design that promotes mobility and enjoyment. SCUs are diverse in nature. There are no state regulations governing what constitutes an SCU. However, Illinois law requires facilities that advertise that they have SCUs must disclose details about their programs.
Although there are no other regulatory policies covering SCUs, concerns about quality led to the development and implementation of a set of standards for SCUs by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving quality of care in a variety of healthcare settings. Since 1994, nursing homes have been able to voluntarily submit to a survey process for SCUs using specific standards in hopes of getting accredited by the Joint Commission. The nursing homes in northeastern Illinois, which have met the Joint Commission’s standards for SCUs, are highlighted on the attached list, which also includes those nursing homes that report having SCUs, but lack Joint Commission accreditation status. Again, the characteristics of these SCUs will vary depending on the particular nursing home’s level of commitment instead of compliance with any set of standards. It should also be noted that this list is not comprehensive and we will make additions and deletions to the list whenever we become aware of any changes.
The Alzheimer’s Association has published a helpful guide and checklist for families seeking to choose an appropriate nursing home. We recommend that this inexpensive booklet be purchased through the Association’s local chapter by calling (847) 933-1000. Ask for a copy of Family Guide for Residential Settings.
View a list of special care units in Northeastern Illinois