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As seniors age and need more assistance with their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), they may choose to move into a residential assisted living care home or an assisted living facility. However, the two types of services provide different levels of care. 

What is a Residential Care Home?

Residential care homes are popular for seniors who prefer to live in smaller, close-knit communities because they provide a more relaxed, comfortable, and home-like environment. Most residents who move into residential care homes need assistance with daily activities but do not need around-the-clock care. In such environments, they receive help with personal care, like grooming and toileting, and they receive three home-cooked meals daily. 

A residential care home, also known as a board and care home, group home, or residential care facility, is a private residence located in a residential neighborhood. Residential care homes are often small facilities that house 20 residents or less. Depending on a resident’s budget, rooms are either private or shared with shared facilities, like bathrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms.  

Residents will also receive support for daily routines, such as medication management, personal hygiene, and mobility. Residents living in residential care homes are relatively independent and active. Therefore, they do not have any severe health conditions or need skilled nursing care.

What is an assisted living facility?

A nurse working in a residential assisted living care home is helping a resident with putting on a coat.
Seniors move into a residential assisted living care home or an assisted living facility to get assistance with ADLs.

An assisted living facility is similar to a residential care home. However, assisted living facilities provide more personalized care in a residential environment. Assisted living facilities offer a more balanced mix of companionship, independence, privacy, and security in a home-like environment, providing the ideal setting for seniors who want an active and social lifestyle.

Residents in assisted living facilities often live in their own homes with the option to choose the size of homes they want, such as a studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartment. Additionally, assisted living facilities have ample space for communal activities, like restaurants, cafes, computer rooms, and libraries.

These communities are popular for residents who can perform some activities independently, like eating and getting dressed but need assistance with other activities, like cooking and housekeeping. 

Residents in assisted living facilities do not have any severe health conditions. However, they may have some minor ailments and require assistance with ADLs. Therefore, when residents are admitted into a facility, the admissions team will assess each resident’s needs and preferences, documenting them in the senior care software so the facility can provide more personalized care. 

Tips on How To Start an Assisted Living Facility

Now that we have a better understanding of residential care homes and assisted living facilities, we can explore the growing need for more senior care services. America’s population is rapidly aging. As of 2022, approximately 46 million people aged 65 years and older live in America. This number is expected to increase to 90 million by 2050. 

With such a rapid rise in the nation’s number of seniors, the senior care industry is facing added pressure to provide more beds and better care services. One way to do this is by opening more residential assisted living facilities.

Here are some tips on how to start an assisted living facility for aspiring assisted living facility owners:

An aspiring owner is speaking with a group of residents in an assisted living facility to learn what residents want so she can gain realistic advice on how to start an assisted living facility
Aspiring owners should speak with residents to get tips on how to start an assisted living facility.
  • Create a sound business plan: Every successful business starts by mapping out the specifics in a well-formulated business plan. When aspiring facility owners create a business plan, they must consider the following four points:
    • Cost – What startup and ongoing expenses are involved? 
    • Name – What will the business name be? 
    • Time – How much time will it take to recuperate the initial investment for the business? 
    • Target market – Considering your particular context, what opportunities are there?
  • Find the best location: Seniors generally do not want to move into residential assisted living facilities far from their homes or families. Therefore, the location of a residential assisted living facility is critically important. When opening a new assisted living facility, aspiring owners need to assess the local demographics of the town, city, and county while paying particular attention to the following factors:
    • Income and net worth
    • Age
    • Population growth 
    • The number of other residential assisted living homes or facilities
  • Stay on top of the necessary paperwork: Starting any new business will require aspiring owners to file forms and obtain the appropriate licenses. While states have different regulations and requirements, all new resident assisted living businesses must complete the proper paperwork that applies to their state before they can operate. 

For example, in Texas, aspiring facility owners will need to take the following steps to get licensed:

  • Complete the pre-survey
  • Complete the license application
  • Submit all required documentation
  • Pay the license fee
  • Submit ownership documents
  • Pass the Life Safety Code and health inspections
  • Get approved by the Licensure and Certification Unit

Meanwhile, in Arizona, aspiring facility owners have access to an array of online resources that include provider training, which walks them through licensing, compliance, and paying application fees.

  • Provide a premium service: When starting an assisted living facility, it is essential to determine the type of service the facility will provide. If aspiring facility owners go down the premium service route by offering luxury bedding, organic food, and high-tech entertainment, like VR technology, this will naturally attract a specific clientele. 

While it may cost more to implement these premium benefits, owners can also charge residents more. Additionally, these premium services may attract seniors to the assisted living facility because they are differentiated from their home environment and competitor facilities. 

  • Get comfortable with the sales process: Statistics show that eighty percent of residential assisted living facilities close within five years of opening. On the surface, this is because businesses run out of cash. However, if you dig a little deeper, there are signs that these businesses fail because facility owners are out of touch with their customers.

When selling a service like assisted living, it is vital to understand the customer journey. This means understanding how to entice seniors to view the facility and encouraging them to book a tour. It will take the concerted efforts of the marketing team to research and analyze what customers are looking for so the team can create a worthy marketing plan that will encourage sales. 

Contact us here if you would like to learn about our system built specifically for assisted living facilities. 

5 Facts About Starting an Assisted Living Business

Even though the long-term care industry is a continually growing market with high profitability, there are equally some stark realities that aspiring facility owners should know about before starting an assisted living business, because failure to do so can lead to business failure:

  1. Minimal downtime

Residential assisted living facility owners are often the eyes and ears of the facility. It is common for facility owners to live in the facility so they can attend to issues when they arise. This means that facility owners find themselves working around the clock and working over the weekends and holidays, leading to work burnout. If this is not something an owner is prepared to take on, then they should choose a more suitable industry and career. 

  1. Relationship challenges

It is common for facility owners to jointly manage a facility with their spouses. While this can be a great bonding experience, it can also lead to marital problems, because there is little privacy, downtime, or the opportunity to find an appropriate work-life balance. Therefore, if aspiring owners are considering a joint partnership to manage the assisted living business, it is wise to consider who to partner with and assess the potential challenges, especially when working with a spouse.  

  1. More instances of death

One of the disadvantages of residential assisted living homes is facing instances of death more frequently than you otherwise would have. Working alongside senior citizens, whether as a facility owner or a caregiver, will mean dealing with death and loss regularly, which can be difficult for some people. Therefore, before committing to the industry, aspiring owners should think carefully about whether they can overcome and deal with death on a regular, long-term basis. 

  1. Difficult family members

When researching how to start an assisted living facility, it is easy for aspiring owners to get carried away with the paperwork and forget that other difficult situations may arise, such as dealing with problematic family members. Some families find it difficult to relinquish control when a loved one is placed in a residential assisted living facility, causing them to behave poorly. As a facility owner, this will become a regular occurrence. Therefore, you must have the right temperament and personality to handle difficult family members. 

  1. Dependence on an EHR

A facility owner has a lot of responsibilities to deal with, such as providing care to the residents, paying the bills, paying staff on time, and purchasing the necessary equipment. This means owners must keep beds filled to maintain financial stability. 

While it is not always easy to balance the books, if the owner invests in a capable elder care software system with effective financial modules that can manage different accounts, like accounts receivable and billing, general ledger, and payroll, this will make it a lot easier to stay on track of their finances. The reality, though, is that such software is a major commitment in terms of money and implementation. 

Even though there are pros and cons to owning an assisted living facility, aspiring facility owners should not feel disheartened about the upcoming challenges. After all, every industry and business has its ups and downs, and opening a residential assisted living facility is no different. Click here to read the eight most important steps in opening an assisted living facility. 

Why Start a Residential Assisted Living Facility?

An aspiring owners is visiting and speaking with residents in an assisted living facility to learn more about running a successful assisted living business.
Before starting an assisted living business, aspiring owners should learn the facts.

Caring for seniors is undeniably a challenging but noble task. Many aspiring facility owners enter the business and industry because they genuinely desire to help and care for seniors. 

One reason seasoned facility owners are still in the industry is that they feel a profound sense of satisfaction from caring for seniors. Despite the challenges of starting and working in a residential assisted living facility, owners can take pride in their work through the achievement and fulfillment they may not find in other professions and industries.

Paired with a well-run residential assisted living facility with content staff and happy residents, facility owners can find themselves making a comfortable living and having a purpose in their lives. 

For more on recent trends in long-term care, read our blog and subscribe to the LTC Heroes podcast