What are the Differences Between Assisted Living and Personal Care? Make the Right Decision for You and Your Loved One

February 1, 2022

Home is where we feel comfort, peace, and security. When you or your loved one is considering moving to a senior living community, it’s important to understand the various levels of care so that you and your family can feel confident that you’ve made the right decision. The Hearth at Drexel, a premier assisted living community located in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, gives residents and their families that confidence.

While both assisted living communities and personal care homes provide supportive and residential services for adults in their later years, there are three main differences between them that are important to understand.

1. The Concept of Aging in Place

Assisted living communities, like The Hearth, provide access to higher levels of care as residents’ needs may increase over time. Regulations require assisted living communities to provide or arrange for the provision of supplemental services like hospice, specialized cognitive support services, physical and occupational therapy, as well as skilled nursing services. Compared to personal care homes, these supplemental services may not be available, causing residents to be moved to a different facility, such as skilled nursing services.


"At The Hearth, when our residents need higher levels of care, they stay in the place they know as home with the caregivers who know and love them. This brings incredible comfort to our residents and their families."

Executive Director, Dana O'Donnell


Executive Director at The Hearth, Dana O’Donnell, has worked with the Liberty Lutheran family of services, which includes The Hearth, for over 20 years. As an expert in the industry, she has seen the concept of aging in place benefit residents in innumerable ways. “Moving for a person in their later years can be detrimental to their physical and emotional well-being. Leaving the place they know as home and entering another community, that can be incredibly difficult. Here at The Hearth, our residents don’t have to do that. They have the ability to stay here and we provide the care that they need,” Dana explains.

Director of Sales and Marketing at The Hearth, Kylie Hood, echoes her sentiments. “I’ve worked in personal care homes in the past, and one of the most difficult parts of that job was telling a resident’s family member that their loved one couldn’t return back to their community simply because their level of care increased. At The Hearth, residents are provided that increased level of care throughout their lifetime, so we never have to tell them that difficult news,” Kylie reflects.

Discover why residents love living at The Hearth! Explore our dedication to compassionate care by clicking here.

2. Construction and layout of the community

Another main difference between assisted living communities and personal care homes are their construction. Assisted living communities like The Hearth require private apartments for each individual resident, unlike personal care homes that may have shared rooms. Private apartments within assisted living communities include a kitchenette that has a refrigerator and microwave, a private bathroom and spacious living areas.

“This really gives our residents the privacy and dignity they desire and deserve,” explains Dana. For adults in their later years who may need assistance with activities of daily living like showering and getting dressed, maintaining that sense of privacy is extremely important. “Our team goes above and beyond to provide that assistance for our residents while maintaining their dignity. They make sure our residents look their best each and every day so that they can live their life confidently and dignified,” Dana affirms.

3. Staffing Requirements

An assisted living community must have a licensed nurse on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A registered dietitian must also be on staff. “We licensed nurses around the clock, while many personal care homes do not have that kind of service. Our Administrator and Director of Nursing are also registered nurses which is very different from many other places,” Dana explains.

With professional care accessible 24 hours a day as well as a registered dietitian, residents at The Hearth know that care will be there for them whenever they need it.

The Hearth at Drexel: Caring for residents like family

Dedicated to providing compassionate care for their residents, one of the many qualities that sets The Hearth apart from all other assisted living communities is their outstanding team of staff.

Our staff truly care for our residents like family. Our management team goes above and beyond to make sure we are not only meeting, but exceeding, the expectations of our residents and their families. 

Director of Sales and Marketing at The Hearth, Kylie Hood

Why do residents love living at The Hearth?

From luxurious accommodations with spacious, private apartments to five-star quality dining, there’s so much to love for residents living at The Hearth. In addition to the beautiful outdoor grounds and luxurious accommodations, residents within the community benefit from extensive community life programming in which each resident’s unique interests inspire new activities, clubs, and events.

Whether residents want to indulge their intellect with virtual, educational lectures from college professors, or delight in leisurely activities like flower arranging and book club, at The Hearth, residents create their ideal lifestyle that brings them fulfillment and joy.

The best part of my job is making a difference in the lives of residents each and every day. Seeing them smile, listening to their stories, and bringing them happiness is what motivates me to provide them with the best quality of care. 

Executive Director at The Hearth at Drexel, Dana O’Donnell

Thank you for visiting The Hearth at Drexel's blog. We bring you new stories from around the community, featuring residents, services, and team members. You can read more stories from all communities in the Liberty Lutheran Family of Services by clicking here.