California: Overview of Assisted Living Licensing

What types of facilities provide assisted living services for seniors in California?

Licensing summary for CaliforniaIn the state of California, there are several types of facilities that provide care services for adults. Facilities that specifically provide housing and assisted living services, such as bathing, grooming or supervision, for adults 60 years or older are called residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFE) as per California Administrative Code (CAC) Title 22, § 87101.

  • A Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly is a housing arrangement whose resident population is composed of 75 percent of individuals who are 60 years of age or older. Varying levels of care and supervision are provided by the community, and the community is voluntarily chosen by a resident or the resident’s guardian.
  • Facilities that offer a long-term continuing care contract, which includes the services of skilled nursing care, are also licensed as RCFEs and have a separate certificate of authority to provide these services.

CAC Title 22, § 87107 identifies the facilities that are exempt from licensing, and examples include a general acute care hospital, primary care clinics, or a personal home where care and supervision is provided by a family member.

Who licenses Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly in California?

The California Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Division is charged with licensing and inspecting RCFEs. Inspections are performed as part of an annual licensure survey or when a complaint is lodged against the facility.

  • CAC Title 22, § 87113 requires the licensee to post the license in a prominent location accessible to public view.

What is required to obtain a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly license?

In addition to submitting an application and processing fee, an applicant must submit a financial plan of operation and a plan of operation which includes a staff plan and a copy of the admission agreement as per CAC Title 22, § 87155 and 22, § 87202. An on-site survey is conducted of the premises to ensure that building codes and fire clearance are met

How do I know an Residential Care Facility for the Elderly is licensed?

The Community Care Licensing Division  provides an online directory of all the licensed RCFEs in California. The results provide the license number, resident capacity, license status, client type and the contact information.

  • If you do not find a facility within the search, contact the regional office to determine whether it is licensed.

How frequently are Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly inspected?

Licensing Program Analysts conduct an evaluation visit at each facility within their jurisdiction, and these visits result in a Facility Evaluation Report.

  • Each facility has an evaluation visit every one year and an in-depth inspection every five years.
  • An inspection will also occur within 10 days of receiving a complaint.

Where can I find the inspection reports of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly?

If you want to review a facility’s file, it is recommended you contact the regional office two to three days ahead of time so the staff can prepare the file for your review. You may review up to three files during your visit.

Within these facility files are all reports related to the community, which include:

  • Facility Evaluation Reports
  • Complaint Investigation Reports (Unfounded, Substantiated, and Needs Further Investigation
  • Case Management Reports

If you are unable to visit the regional office to view files in person, it may be possible to request a copy be sent to you. There will likely be a fee to cover the costs of copying and mailing the records.

How long are Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly required to retain their copy of inspection reports?

While there is no regulation regarding how long RCFEs have to retain their copies of Facility Evaluation Reports and Complaint Investigation Reports, the regional offices in the state of California keep their records for three years.

  • Although there is no regulation specifying that RCFEs must post the most current inspection report, they are required to make it available upon request.

How can I file a complaint against a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly and what is the complaint process?

Complaints are filed at the regional office that oversees the community. If you have a minor concern or issue with the community, the CDSS recommends you work with the provider to resolve the issue. However, if the issue remains unresolved or you think the provider is breaking licensing laws, you should file a complaint.

  • If you suspect that physical or sexual abuse is occurring, you should also report the concern to local law enforcement.

Within 10 days of receiving a complaint, a Licensing Program Analyst will conduct an unannounced visit to the facility to investigate the complaint. During complaint investigations, a Facility Evaluation Report may also be written up.

After the visit, a Complaint Investigation Report is submitted to the facility, either confirming the complaint is substantiated or that the complaint is unfounded or cannot be proven at this time. You will also receive results of the investigation.

Where can I find a list of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly which are Top-Rated Senior Living Communities?

Top Rated California Residential Care Facilities for the ElderlyIn 2013 launched a nationwide program to identify the best senior living communities. Using local experts and state inspection data, we created Top 10 lists for many metros in California including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Inland Empire (Riverside), Greater Sacramento, Greater San Diego and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clare.

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