What Is a Board and Care Home?

Author: Seniorly Editor

| Published on: June,23 | Viewed: 21679 times


A Board and Care home offers an alternative to assisted living and independent living communities. Here is a complete look at this unique senior housing option.

What Is a Board and Care Home?

What is a Board and Care home?

A board and care home is a licensed 24-hour care property. Often within someone’s personal home, these senior living homes offer room, board, 24-hour staffing, care services and assistance with things such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.

Nursing and medical care are not provided on site or included in most homes.

Also known as group homes, residential care homes or adult foster care commuities, these senior living facilities are common across the entire United States.  It's in California where they are commonly called "Board and Care."

Keep on reading to learn more about these unique care communities.  Or if you're ready to search for a board and care home near you, enter your zip code in the search box below.


Who lives in a Board and Care?

Generally, individuals looking for a more home-like atmosphere, and a closer relationship with care providers will find themselves interested in board and cares.

Days are less structured and give the resident more freedom than more hands on types of care.

According to a study done by the Center for Disease Control in 2016, these types of communities generally are host to younger individuals than their counterparts with more beds.

In 2016, 16% of those in adult foster care communities were under the age of 65 versus just 4% in communities with 50+ beds. 

Individuals with Alzheimer disease, depression and dementia were also more commonly found in these group homes. The lower staff to patient ratio lends itself well to treating and supporting those types of ailments.

Differences between other types of care communities

There is a great deal of variety across "Board and Care" homes, but they are distinguished from other assisted living communities in a number of ways. 


Assisted Living

Board and Care

Nursing Home

 24-Hour Attention




 Medical staff on-site




 Allow external service providers




 Housekeeping & laundry




Primary Differences

Board and care homes provide a more natural and homelike atmosphere. They also tend to be located in single-family homes that have been adapted to meet licensing requirements.

They are integrated into the community so that anyone driving through the neighborhood would not immediately know that the home is a residential senior care facility.

There are fewer residents, generally 8 to 10, and a lower staff to resident ratio, about 1 to 4.  Therefore, the level of care can be much greater than in other senior housing communities.

vs. Assisted Living

The primary differences between a board and care home and a more traditional assisted living community is related directly to the the amount of beds on premise or the presence of more traditional medical staff, including doctors and nurses, on-site.

You may find that a larger percentage of those in group homes receive Medicaid assistance than residents in larger assisted living communities near you, as well.

For more information on assisted living homes, read this Seniorly article.

vs. Nursing Home

Health care is the number one priority in a nursing home.  Here, residents are provided with a more hands-on form of medical care and personal assistance than residential care homes.

Individuals in nursing homes are typically on a more scheduled care routine and receive much more personalized and skilled medical attention from staff on-site than almost any other type of adult care community.

Now that you've learned a little about the difference, find a Board and Care home near you by entering your zip code below or cick on this link.


Expected costs

Board and Care homes tend to be a more affordable option than larger senior living communities. This is because they do not need to employ such a large medical staff, or maintain a large facility.

Most group homes are private pay, with rates ranging from $1,000 - $5,000 per month.  However, 19% of people in group homes received Medicaid assistance, and 43% of senior housing properties had at least one resident who received Medicaid. [1]

Veterans are also able to receive certain VA benefits when considering a board and care home.

Requirements for this, may change and can vary by county so it is best to visit the website directly or visit your local county office.

There are long term care insurance policies that can often be used to cover expenses.  Be sure to look into this option, but know all the details before you commit. 

For more localized information, including prices, floor plans and photos, or to set up a tour, click here to search for a Board and Care home near you.

How to evaluate a Board and Care home

Because of the variety across homes, it’s important to do some research up front. Here are several things to consider when evaluating different senior living board and care communities.

  1. Visit a number of places and talk to staff and current residents.  Finding a setting and mix of people that is comfortable for you is important.
  2. Ask a number of people what a typical day is like in the house.  Is there lots of activity?  Are the residents social and doing things?  Or, is it a quieter place where individuals do more of their own thing?  Both are fine, but you want to be in a place that fits your personality and lifestyle.
  3. Ask to see the state's most recent inspection report.  Find out how many and what type of complaints have been filed against the property in the last year, if any.  The Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) in the California Department of Social Services is responsible for the licensing and monitoring of all assisted living facilities, including "Board and Care" homes.  A random selection of approximately 20% of facilities are visited unannounced each year. A facility may also be visited in response to a complaint.  Results of these visits are publicly available through the CCLD, but the board and care facility is also required to have the report and complaint information on site for your review.
  4. Ask for information on the ratio of nurse aides to residents. For the day, evening and night shifts; the amount of staff turnover; and the training given to staff. 
  5. Find out if this is the only property or if the house you are considering is part of a company with a number of houses?  Sometimes a slightly larger company with more houses can provide additional services.  For example, in addition to the on-site staff they may have nursing staff who visits multiple houses on a regular schedule.  They may have events and activities that involve residents from multiple houses.  You may have more options about the house you live in.
  6. Ask how the staff cares for residents who become incontinent (e.g., how often they check and clean them) or residents with memory or cognitive problems (e.g., is the house safe for those who wander, do they use restraints or medications to control behaviors).
  7. Find out if they provide transportation to doctor appointments and community activities.

We have written additional pieces on how to evaluate senior living homes which you can read here and here.
Learn more

In short, "Board and Care" homes can be a good alternative to skilled nursing homes or larger assisted living communities for many older adults.

There is a lot of variety so upfront research is important, but can be very rewarding when you find the best fit for you.  

Ready to see prices for a Board and Care home near you?  Want to see photos or set up a tour? Enter your zip code in the search field below.


[1] Center for Disease Control; 2016 - https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db299.htm


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