South Carolina Assisted Living

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South Carolina Assisted Living: How to pay for, Licensing and Questions to ask…

The state of South Carolina is an ideal location for aging adults because of the mild climate and the beautiful mountain ranges and coastline. The affordable cost of assisted living makes living in South Carolina a pleasant place for aging seniors. There are an estimated 1.5 million seniors and retirees in South Carolina. 1 in 5 residents is a senior citizen, and to accommodate, the state has created programs aimed at making the lives of aging adults easier when the time comes that they require care. Assisted living communities are a specific level of care in a community setting.

Aside from assisted living, there are a variety of senior living and housing and care options which suit the requirements and desires of seniors.

Common terms that differentiate levels and types of senior living: 

  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)- typically include independent living, assisted living, residential care and skilled nursing services all on one campus.  
     
  • Independent Living Communities – provide residents a setting without the burden of home ownership. Residents commonly live in fully equipped private apartments or cottages from a studio to large two-bedroom units.  
     
  • Care Home or Adult Family Care Home- are private residences in a home-like setting that provide care services to a smaller more limited number of residents (typically 5-12 residents, depending on each state’s regulations). 
     
  • Assisted Living- provides housing and supportive care in a community setting, but the residents do not require 24-hour nursing care. 
     
  • Memory Care- a care setting for residents with memory loss or confusion. The community typically has a “secured” entry for residents that may wander. This care can be provided in different care settings depending on the state licensing requirements. 
     
  • Skilled Nursing is state licensed to provide a safe, therapeutic environment for people who require rehabilitative care 24 hours a day.

Assisted living and other terms

Assisted living communities are NOT nursing homes. The most common universal term is assisted living. Some other common terms include: care home, residential care, convalescent home, rest home, or retirement home. The lay person sometimes groups all senior housing into the term of “nursing home.”

What does Assisted Living in South Carolina offer?

Service plans

Residents are presented with a written agreement outlining the needs of the resident, expected care.

Before entry into any community or facility, all residents will be given a schedule of services and fees and grievance policy, and the bill of rights of the facility.

Services

  • Assistance with ADLs: eating, bathing, walking, dressing, toileting
  • Room and board
  • Meals
  • Transport to medical appointments when necessary, as well as arranging appointments

Additional activities and amenities may include:

  • Clubs
  • Game nights
  • Classes 
  • Parties and other social events
  • Planned outings

Laws and Regulations in South Carolina

Housing in assisted living

All single unit apartments are required to have a minimum of 100 square feet of space. This does not include closets, bathrooms or walkways. Multiple resident rooms are required to have a minimum of 80 feet per resident. Apartment units are allowed a maximum of three residents. Community space are required to provide 20 feet of clear space per bed. There must be 1 bathroom per six beds and 1 shower or bathtub per 8 beds in any facility.

The fee schedule is regular monthly rent. There may be additional charges for amenities and any specific services.

Staffing

The administrator is in charge of daily management of the facility. The administrator should always be available on premises in a reasonable time. One staff member (per eight residents) is required to be on site between the hours of 7am to 7pm. During sleeping hours, one staff member must be awake and on duty for every 30 residents.

Grievances

All staff are consider mandated reporters, and hereby must report any abuse or suspicion of abuse. All visiting contracted employees are considered reporters when on premises.

Expected Monthly Costs of Assisted Living Communities

The expected monthly cost of assisted living in South Carolina is $3,650 per month. Across the country, the average cost of assisted living is $4,500 per month. In comparison with neighboring states, South Carolina offers reasonable costs for assisted living.

  • National average for assisted living per month: $4,500
  • South Carolina: $3,650
  • North Carolina: $4,050
  • Georgia: $3,550
  • Tennessee: $4,200
  • Florida: $4,100

The cost of assisted living will vary within state as well. Costs will be higher or lower depending on the city and county you choose to seek senior housing.

  • South Carolina state average per month: $3,650
  • Myrtle Beach: $4,100
  • Sumter: $2,700
  • Greenville: $3,750
  • Charleston: $4,000
  • Columbia: $3,300

Financial Assistance for Assisted Living in South Carolina

Medicaid

South Carolina’s Medicaid program is called Healthy Connections. The program does not pay for room and board. However, the program will pay for (eligible) expenses, transportation to and from appointments and personal care services. You can apply for South Carolina’s Medicaid program at the Healthy Connections website.

PACE

The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly covers medical care and services such as: eating, bathing, dressing. Applicants must live on one of six counties which participate in this program

Optional State Supplementation Program

This program is available to certain residents of assisted living who require monetary assistance. The program assists with room and board and meals as well as a small monthly cash infusion for the individuals to purchase items they wish.

How to pay for assisted living

You want to consider your payment options for assisted living, memory care, and care homes. For these services, Medicare is NOT an option for payment.

The most common payment for these services would be out of pocket Private Pay and assessing a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.

Medicaid can also be an option, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

Long-Term Care insurance is also a possible option in cases of chronic conditions, be sure to see if you or a loved one qualifies.

For our Veterans and spouses of veterans, be sure to assess Veteran Aid and your eligibility for these benefits.

Medicare – NO:

  • Medicare does NOT pay for Assisted Living.
  • People 65 years and older and individuals with end stage renal disease are eligible for Medicare benefits, no matter their income.
  • Coverage is meant for people in need of short-term care.

Private pay – YES:

  • Many families pay for assisted living with private funds.
  • Private pay can be a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.
  • Family members may contribute funds to pay for assisted living or other senior housing and care.

Medicaid – MAYBE:

  • Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans. Eligible participants include: low-income adults, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid is administered by state, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by each state and the federal government.
  • Every state has their own individual Medicaid assistance program.
  • National guidelines are in place do decipher how states must spend Medicaid money, but with allowances toward the guidelines.
  • The state determines what levels of care will be covered by Medicaid, who is eligible, and how much the state will reimburse the care community.
  • If you are unsure whether you qualify for Medicaid, you should apply. You may be eligible depending on your household income, family size, age, disability and other factors.

Long-term Care Insurance – MAYBE:

Long term care insurance is a great way to pay for assisted living, and planning ahead is important when considering how to pay for senior housing and care. Nearly 75% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care and services at some point. Buying into long-term care insurance when a person is in their 50s and 60s is the most common time to do so.

  • Long-term care insurance helps cover the costs of chronic medical conditions.
  • Individuals and couples with the ability to pay into long-term care insurance have the advantage of a head start in allocating funds for senior care.

Veteran Aid and Assistance – MAYBE:

This benefit is available to some military veterans and surviving spouses who live in an assisted living community and those who have in-home care.

  • There are specific guidelines, but a veteran may qualify for as much as $2,050 each month.
  • A veteran with a sick spouse may be eligible for $1,600 per month.
  • If a veteran has passed, their surviving spouse can qualify for $1,300 per month.

Questions to Ask

Finding an assisted living community can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on things to be observant of:

  • Make sure the facility is clean and well maintained. You can tell a lot about the operation by noting what is clean and maintained. Are doorknobs loose or damaged? Do you see any frayed carpet or trip hazards?
  • Visit during lunch hour to observe what the residents are eating. Ask questions about the nutrition program. Is there diversity in meals, healthy fruits and vegetables served at all meals, drink options?
  • Speak to residents and/or family members to learn their perspective.
  • Ask about staff and resident engagement. Get a feel for how staff interact with residents.
  • Ask about the life enrichment programs. Activities are crucial when it comes to quality of life and play a key role in care for older adults.
  • And finally (along with a plethora of more things to consider), get to know the leadership in the building. If you feel good around the Executive Director, Head Nurse, Lead Activities Director and even the Chef or Janitor, it is a good sign you can trust them with the care of your loved one.

Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. Connect with services such as meals, home care or transportation, or a caregiver education or respite from caregiving responsibilities. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Medicare provides a search feature to find & compare providers near you, most senior housing and care providers are included on CareAvailability.com. Find & compare plans in your area. Determine if you qualify for premium savings

Medicaid offers information on how to apply for Medicaid, eligibility criteria, links to local state offices, and additional resources.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone with the disease, information and resources are available. 

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Written by The Care Availability Team
Experts in the senior care & retirement living industries

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