See if this more intimate setting is right for your loved one
By Grace Matleich, last updated August 8 2022
Board and care homes, also known as residential care homes, group homes, or adult foster care homes, are a type of assisted living facility that offers personal assistance with basic daily tasks. This small and intimate community allows residents to live in their own private room or share a room with one other resident. They often tend to be set up in a home-like setting in a single-family home with around 6 beds and public areas for everyone to share.
Board and care homes are beneficial for people who need help with typical day-to-day activities but want to maintain their independence, as they can still prepare their own meals and go about their lives as they see fit. Medical care is typically not provided in these communities.
Because of their small size, usually less than 10 occupants, these residential care communities typically enjoy a better staff-to-resident ratio, so residents get more personalized care by staffing. Senior residents choose board and care homes when they want to live in a place that feels like a home rather than a medical care facility. They often find personal freedom and lack of structure appealing. They may be attracted by the personal nature of living in a small house with like-minded people they can get to know well.
Board and care homes also provide housekeeping services such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, doing the dishes, and more so residents don't have to worry about doing these types of chores.
In addition, people with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression often choose residential care homes because of the personalized attention and support received from caregivers. Some have called this “The X Factor for Dementia Care.”
Residential care homes offer some unique benefits to their residents. With a smaller size and more hands-on approach, these facilities can provide the best of both worlds: they can give each resident one-on-one time while also being large enough for activities with other residents or visitors. Of course, it’s not always easy when it comes down to deciding what type of facility is right for your loved ones. We'll go over all the benefits in detail below so you have a better understanding before making that final decision.
The services provided at a board and care home are similar to those provided at an assisted living community, but in a home setting. Staff in a residential care home help with a wide variety of personal services. The owner or manager of the home often lives there with the residents, though there's no requirement for staff to be available to residents 24/7. The exact services can vary, but some of the most common amenities include:
In addition, often a staff member will handle all laundry, including linens. Basic supplies, such as toilet paper, are also included, although incontinence supplies may not be.
Seniors have many choices when looking at senior living options. There are many questions to be answered and many options to choose from. Take a look at some of the different residences to understand which option is best for you or your loved one.
Both board and care homes and assisted living generally offer everyday activities such as:
Assisted living generally also offers:
The services and level of care provided to residents at the board and care homes are very similar to those provided at assisted living communities. The most significant difference between these senior living options is the size of the community. Board and care homes are much smaller than most assisted living facilities, so they appeal to seniors who prefer a cozier, more homelike, and supportive environment that's more relaxed and less structured.
In addition, monthly rent, including care costs, is usually more affordable here than at an assisted living facility. This makes finding long-term care within reach for many seniors. Because of this, board and care homes care for a larger number of Medicaid recipients than assisted living communities do.
Seniors looking for more in the way of amenities and recreational activities are likely to prefer an assisted living community to a board and care home. And seniors who are outgoing and socially inclined may feel constricted in the small, intimate community of a board and care home.
Unlike board and care homes, independent living communities do not typically offer:
However, an independent living community does often provide
While both board and care homes and independent living communities foster a sense of independence in their senior residents, most seniors in independent living don't require any help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Seniors often live in their own apartments in independent living communities, while in board and care homes, they have a private or shared bedroom within a traditional single-family home. Many independent living communities also offer a wide range of activities, unlike board and care homes. One example is a CCRC (continuing care retirement community).
Both board and care home and skilled nursing facilities will often provide:
However, skilled nursing facilities' primary purpose is to provide medical care. In skilled nursing facilities (SNF) senior residents have access to 24/7 medical care, with medical professionals on duty around the clock. These facilities are intended for seniors who need nursing care daily, perhaps while recovering from illness, surgery, or injury.
If a board and care home resident begins to require a higher level of skilled nursing care, they usually transfer to a skilled nursing facility. In some states, arrangements can be made to provide nursing care to residents of board and care homes, sometimes through assisted living programs funded by Medicaid assistance programs or the Veterans Administration.
The monthly fees for a board and care home can run anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 for your out of pocket care costs. This depends largely on where you live. While areas with a higher cost of living are likely to see higher fees, in general, most costs run between $3,500 and $4,500 per month.
You can reduce those costs a bit by sharing a bedroom with a roommate. As you explore the price of a board and care home note that additional senior care services, such as dementia care or incontinence supplies, can raise the rates.
Medicaid can help cover the cost of board and care facilities in some states. Medicare does not normally pay for these services, so you'll need to determine if this is available based on your income levels. Some individuals may be able to use their Social Security Income (SSI) funds or retirement savings towards paying for these costs as well. Most seniors are able to pay with their own savings or retirement accounts.
If you're looking for the right board and care home, or even if you're just considering it as a possible senior living option, you probably have a lot of questions. We want to help you answer them. As you research and visit board and care homes in your area, it can be helpful to take along a comprehensive list of questions so you get all the detailed information you need.
Here's a starter list of questions to ask at board and care homes to help you make a wise decision for yourself or your loved one:
Board and care homes don't provide nursing or medical care. Seniors who need daily medical care beyond medication management may not be good candidates for these residential care homes. However, in most cases, the staff at a board and care home will be happy to drive residents to doctors' or therapy appointments.
Not all states license board and care homes, which are sometimes also called residential care homes, residential personal care homes, or residential care facilities for the elderly. Check with your state's Department of Aging to understand whether licenses are required.
The name "board and care home" is primarily used in California. In other states, this type of senior living can be called a residential care home or a residential personal care home or some variation of that. Use your preferred online search engine to find the right term or ask one of our Seniorly Partner Agents in your region. Or reach out to your state’s Department of Aging for details. Regardless of the name, this type of senior housing is different from others because of its home-like, intimate setting.
No, they do not. Low-income residents may be eligible for financial help from Medicaid or the Veterans Administration in some cases. While traditional health insurance doesn't cover the costs of a board and care home, long-term care insurance policies typically do cover them.
Some board and care homes only accept cats, accept cats or dogs, or have a communal pet that all the residents can enjoy. If you or your loved one wants to bring a pet, make sure to ask who takes care of the pet and whether there's a surcharge.
In addition to their room and three meals a day, senior residents in a residential care home receive the customized help they need with the activities of daily living (ADLs), which include bathing, dressing, and grooming, as well as help with medication management. Housekeeping services, linen, and laundry are also provided. The goal is always to help senior residents maintain as much independence as possible. Some residential care homes also provide transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and entertainment. Because these homes are small, they don't offer a great variety of planned activities. However, many are known to welcome residents who all have something in common, like a shared passion for an activity or culture.