Bethesda Senior Living Communities is a not-for-profit business. But what does that mean, and is there any value in choosing an assisted living community that's part of a not-for-profit parent company? Find out more below about the differences between for-profit, nonprofit and not-for-profit and some reasons you might want to consider a not-for-profit community for yourself or your loved one.
These terms don't just apply to assisted living communities. They apply to a variety of businesses and organizations, and it can be confusing to understand what the differences really are. Here's a quick primer on what these terms mean:
• For-profit: Organizations that operate as for-profit businesses have an end goal to make money. Everything they do is designed to boost their bottom lines. That doesn't mean they can't also have brand visions and values or even want to make a positive difference in the world. But the owners and, in some cases, shareholders earn income from the profits of the business. This doesn't mean for-profit organizations don't care about customers, but it does mean they have to make decisions that also benefit owners and shareholders.
• Nonprofit. Nonprofit organizations qualify for a special tax-exempt status from the IRS specifically because they operate with a mission that's designed to provide public benefits or support a charitable cause. Any money made by the organization goes back into the organization to further the benefits and support it can provide.
• Not-for-profit. A not-for-profit organization is similar to a nonprofit in that it doesn't work to make money for owners or shareholders. Any profits made are reinvested in the organization or in the service of the organization's members or mission. The biggest difference between this and a nonprofit is that a not-for-profit doesn't have to serve the greater public good (although some do).
Assisted living communities can actually be for-profit, nonprofit or not-for-profit. For-profit assisted living communities are privately owned businesses out to make money. That doesn't mean they can't also provide excellent amenities and care, but owners and shareholders do tend to make decisions based on growth and profit margins.
A large percentage of assisted living communities in the country are for-profit businesses.
Nonprofit assisted living communities are those that are run by charitable organizations. They may raise money so they can provide free or low-cost care for certain individuals.
Not-for-profit assisted living communities have a bit more flexibility than nonprofits. They also may have a mission or vision that runs alongside the mission to provide caring, professional services for older adults. For example, Bethesda Senior Living Communities is a not-for-profit organization that invests funds back into each community and resident. But we also invest in the neighborhoods and towns around our communities and in larger projects that offer hope throughout the nation and world.
When you're considering assisted living communities, numerous factors should drive your decision. Some important ones might include:
• The services offered. Consider what your requirements are as far as level of care or what types of wellness services you want easy access to.
• The amenities offered. Do you want a community with a busy schedule so you can easily join in to a variety of activities, or are you looking for a quiet location embedded in nature? Consider whether you want access to meals and a dining room as well as options such as television and computer rooms, libraries or even salons.
• Location. Is it important for you to be near a healthcare provider, family or previous community?
• Community culture. Does the culture of the community—including the way residents interact with each other and how staff cares for residents—mesh well with your personality?
• Apartments. Does the community offer a living environment you can see yourself making a home in?
All of the above are important, but many people may not consider why they should choose a not-for-profit. Here are a few reasons:
• It's not a business looking to drive profits. Decisions aren't made on the basis of what's good for the bottom line and the residents. They're made primarily based on what residents need. That can lead to an increased quality of care. This isn't true in all situations—there are high-quality and low-quality communities of both the for-profit and not-for-profit variety, so ensure you do your research when choosing a new home for yourself or your loved one.
• You may be supporting other missions. Many not-for-profit assisted living communities, including those under the Bethesda Gardens Senior Communities umbrella, use some funds to support other missions. They may fund community programs or other worthwhile endeavors that help others. Residents or families who are paying for the assisted living community services are, in a way, also supporting those other missions. This can help seniors feel like they are continuing to give back to others.
For more information on our missions and the amenities at our communities, contact the nearest Bethesda Senior Living Communities location near you.