Get started free with our free intro course!

Big-Box Senior Living vs. Residential Assisted Living Homes…What’s the Difference?

Big-Box Senior Living vs. Residential Assisted Living Homes…What’s the Difference?


Residential Assisted Living (RAL) is the difference between a hospital-like environment compared to cozy and comfortable care at home. 

It’s the closest experience to being at home, but better.

It ensures the safety of senior citizens, coupled with comfort, companionship, and care in a cozy atmosphere.

Seniors need more than mere treatment. 

Living in a bog box will never adequately compare to occupying a smaller space with friends that feels like home.


Every home for senior citizens works with the same modus operandi. 

However, the Residential Assisted Living industry is quite different. It has unique components such as the feeling of being at home, staff-to-resident ratios, and cost.

These aspects alone set the RAL home model apart from big-box living.

Three Distinct Components of RAL Homes:

1. The Feeling of Being at Home: 

  • Custom designed to offer seniors the warm feeling of being at home;
  • Strongly encourage the concept of “a home away from home”;
  • Implements décor that reminds each elderly resident of their own home;
  • Offers intimate settings that prevent seniors from succumbing to loneliness;
  •  Convert neighbor houses into residential senior living homes;
  • Infuses elements of a home environment into their living spaces;
  • Focuses on the comfort and consideration of residents more than amenities;
  • Recognizes and accommodates the fact that older people miss their homes;
  • Infused with warm colors as opposed to a monochromic setting; and
  • Paintings, photo albums, and personal pictures stir fond memories.

2. Staff-to-Resident Ratios: 

  • Staff to resident ratio determines the quality of care;
  • These important aspects determine the quality of direct care staff; 
  •  Big box facility staff-to-resident ratios are as high as 1 staff to 18 residents;
  • RAL homes benefit from an average of about 1 staff-to-5 residents;
  • High residential intake at big box facilities pose obstacles for quality staff-to-resident relationships, limit personal touch and hinders Companionship;
  • A limited number of staff increases fall risks and restricts the amount of time available for personal care; and
  • RAL home interactive settings improve psychological and physical health.

3. Cost: 

  • A semi-private room in nursing homes costs about $6,844 per month, some big box facilities are even higher; 
  • Private facilities units cost between $4,500 – $6,000 monthly;
  • RAL homes on average cost about $4,050 per month; 
  • All assisted living facilities cover the cost of food, care, and medication management. RAL home prices remained fixed, unlike other assisted living billing concepts. 
  • RAL homes do not increase prices based on the frequency of Medication management; unlike other assisted living pricing components.
  • All concepts of assisted living are costly, but RAL homes are more cost-effective.


The major question here is: Why should you place your elderly parents or family members in a RAL home, instead of a big box facility? It’s simple. RAL homes are quite advantageous to elderly residents.

There are a host of benefits posed to residents who occupy intimate RAL home settings, as opposed to other high cost assisted living concepts. 

Benefits of Residential Assisted Living

1. Personal Care:

The structure of RAL facilities equips staff to provide better and more personal care to the residents. 

As stated earlier, the staff-to-resident ratios are much lower in RAL homes. 

As a result, the direct care staff spends more time with the residents and equally provides more companionship. 

Staff can understand each resident’s special needs, preferences and engage in quality conversations with them. 

Similarly, residents are not viewed as mere numbers or nameless individuals. 

RAL home residents are known and addressed by their names and preferences. 

This makes elderly residents feel special and contributes to their general well-being. 

RAL homes avoid “one size fits all” concepts. 

Parties and celebrations mark unique occasions with amendments for special food menus during festivities. 

2. Fixed Prices:

Most people dislike added expenses beyond their expected budgets. This is another important niche for RAL homes that offer fixed pricing. 

Elderly residents have different levels of care which they require. 

These levels of care have to do with medication, food, quality time spent with them and so on. 

As these residents advance in age, their levels of care increase. Ordinarily, older seniors require more care, and oftentimes more medication.

Most big-box facilities apply a progressive price policy. 

That is, as care needs increase, rising prices are reflected on monthly billing. 

In some cases, families are forced to absorb the added cost as elderly family members age and medical conditions worsen. 

This often poses problems.

RAL facilities do not pose progressive price policies – their fixed pricing does not increase despite aging residents that require higher levels of care.

3. A Better Social Environment: 

RAL facilities provide a better social environment for elderly residents. The environment is warm, safe and intimate. 

Most elderly people avoid crowds, mingling amongst a smaller circle of friends, rather than a huge number of people. 

According to studies, elderly people are more susceptible to loneliness, isolation, and depression.

Large crowds do not help seniors escape the risk of being susceptible, intimate relationships do. 

Tighter connections and closer friendships are common cures for loneliness, isolation, and depression. 

As such, RAL facilities provide elderly individuals with the opportunity to create new connections. 

The low number of residents per home makes it easier to connect while remaining in their comfort zone. 

RAL homes foster an environment that knits close friendships together.

The caregivers also ensure that each resident is active, engaged and happy. 

RAL facilities give seniors a feeling of home and nostalgia. In part, this is achieved through the physical structure of the facility.

In essence, RAL facilities homes are an intimate setting that provides quality care. These residents experience the best of both worlds to the residents.

4. Safety: 

As previously stated, RAL home regulations, policies and procedures provide residents a sense of safety. 

The feeling of being at home, in combination with safe security measures, helps maintain the aura of safety.


Residential Assisted Living homes are not just beneficial to the residents but to the owners of the facilities as well. 

Many individuals who own and operate residential assisted living homes also enjoy the benefits.

Visit for countless testimonials of how owners and operators gain a sense of fulfillment helping the elderly. 

This is one business model that satisfies a significant need for surrounding care and housing for seniors.

With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning age 65 annually, and 4000 turning age 85, there is a rapidly growing need.

Elderly people need and want a system that will cater to their basic needs and health care, but also one that will nurture happiness and inner healing. 

There are financial benefits attached to these in-demand RAL homes.

Contact RAL Academy today to learn how to meet the high demand for senior housing.

The academy is empowering business owners on the “do good and do well” concept that is a major industry and investment opportunity. 

Email This Article
Gene Guarino


Gene's Introductory Course for Residential Assisted Living

Discover how RAL works, why now, and how it will work for you! Register for the free course below and we’ll send you immediate access.

This introductory course is taught by our late Founder, Gene Guarino.


RALAcademy FREE Introductory Course

Learn how Residential Assisted Living Will Work for You!

What’s the best email to send your course access info to?

Your privacy is protected.

Get Access to the One & Done Formula!

Complete the fields below and we’ll send your access link to the webinar via email.

Privacy Policy: We hate spam and promise to keep your email address safe