State Law Protections for Assisted Living Residents

If you or a loved one move into a senior housing facility, it is important to know that you are protected by a lot of state requirements. For instance, assisted living is regulated by each and every state in the country, and the exact regulations and licensing requirements vary from state to state. There are some subtle differences though, which contribute to the large amount of senior housing models that are available to choose from. State regulations are often based on consumers and seek to maximize both independence and choice, while enabling senior living providers to focus more on innovative solutions to better serve their particular markets. Rather than making some uniform regulations that would otherwise result in having cookie-cutter communities, the states have looked into a lot of unique approaches to the issue, and borrowed from successes of other states.

In either your state or the one in which you’re seeking to find a senior living residence, you might see that some properties may be licensed, others might be unlicensed, and some may accept Medicaid payments for their services, while others may be private-pay only. There is no doubt that this much in the way of variety can be confusing, but it has also allowed the senior housing market to evolve and change to better meet the various needs of the different markets and consumer preferences within them.

It is also important for you to know that there are some lobbying groups who have pushed for federal oversight of assisted living programs. Having federal-level control means that it would stick assisted living programs with prescriptive, institutionalized regulations that are more often seen throughout nursing homes. Regulations imposed by the various states are working fine, and forcing any federal regulations on facilities would get rid of the choice and level of independence that has thus far been a defining characteristic of the industry.

The most progressive among state regulations take note from consumers, and focus on protecting the consumers in a way that will give them the most choice and independence they can possibly get. The Assisted Living Federation of America backs certain core principles that definitely need to be included in each state’s assisted living legislative or regulatory framework.

Any state regulations generally address the mandatory services a senior living residence has to provide. For example, mandatory services in an assisted living residence will often include help with the activities of daily living (like dressing, eating, etc.), meals, housekeeping, and resident assessments. Some might also have a list of optional services, like money management, shopping services, and medical appointment management. Those regulations might also outline those services a facility may be unable to provide. For instance, some states will often prohibit assisted living facilities from giving continuous skilled nursing care.

A lot of the states’ regulations also have language related to resolving grievances. Those might require a residence to develop a policy for addressing resident grievances or might require the grievance process to be disclosed as part of the lease or resident agreement. When making trips to visit these facilities, you should ask for the residence’s complaint policy as well as who the responsible part is for dealing with complaints.