Header Image: Continuing Care vs. Continuum of Care vs. Continuity of CareGrammar, spelling, jargon, slang… communicating can be tricky. Especially when it comes to health care, terms that sound similar may have nothing in common.

If you’re exploring retirement options or caregiving for a beloved family member, here’s one set of terms that shouldn’t be used interchangeably, however similar they might be.

While understanding them might not save your life like punctuation will (ha!), it certainly helps to minimize confusion.

“Continuing care,” “continuum of care” and “continuity of care” are easily confused. One identifies a specific type of retirement option and the others are clinical terms used by medical professionals.

Continuing Care

Used to identify a Continuing Care Retirement Community, “continuing care” isn’t typically a term used on its own without the words “retirement community” or “at home” to provide further description. A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a specific type of retirement community with seamless levels of care typically available within the same campus or a nearby campus. Residents move into the retirement community as independent adults, transitioning to assisted living, skilled care or memory care if their ability to live independently should change.

Some CCRCs offer the care component as a separate membership program available to those who chose to remain in their own home, rather than moving to the new community. This type of program is known as Continuing Care at Home. Sun Health at Home is a program of this type offered by Sun Health, which also operates three CCRC campuses in the Phoenix metropolitan area.   

Not to add to the confusion, but CCRCs were recently renamed life plan communities as part of an initiative to encourage younger adults to join CCRCs, hoping the new designation would appeal to younger, healthier seniors.

CCRCs may include a Life Care option, which is an insurance product guaranteeing care for the residents lifetime regardless of financial status once a member joins a community.

Sun Health offers Life Care plans at all three of its communities (CCRCs), as well as through its Sun Health at Home program.

Continuum of Care

Continuum of care is a medical term used  to define the  full spectrum of health and medical services related to patient care across multiple caregivers, offices, hospitals and other institutions.

Services organized under a formal continuum of care, such as those owned by the same health system,  will typically share electronic medical records information throughout each transition a patient makes.

Continuity of Care

Also used in the health care system, continuity of care relates to the continuation of care over time for an individual patient, rather than multiple patients..

Continuity of care for a patient tends to refer to the coordination of actions by an integrated medical team that is actively managing care for more effective, cost-efficient outcomes.

It’s also a term generally used within the professional medical environment only, so most consumers are unlikely to encounter the term unless it’s overheard from medical professionals speaking in the clinical environment.

Do you have a term that’s confusing, or something you’ve been told about retirement that doesn’t really make sense to you? Bring your questions on over to our Facebook page! We’re happy to tackle even the toughest ones.

If you’d like to learn more about Sun Health at Home’s continuing care at home product, reserve your spot now at a free, no-obligation discovery seminar near you, or call (623)336-4663.

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